Hoover, Starbuck, Sadie and Fish: these are just a few of the friendly faces you’ll see around Etsy headquarters. They’re not product managers or software engineers, nor are they merchandisers or support representatives – they’re members of the canine operations team, and yes! They’re dogs.
The dog-friendly office policy has been in place since Etsy began in 2005, and it’s one of the ways we strive to maintain a casual, creative, and inspiring work environment. In addition to sharing meals, riding bikes to our local farm to compost office waste, and volunteering, bringing our dogs to work helps keep spirits high and fosters a sense of community and connection that is paramount to what Etsy is all about, employee experience manager Sarah Starpoli explains.
“It’s funny because I notoriously dislike dogs, but I love having them here. They make people smile almost universally, and I think they allow anxiety to diffuse when they suddenly skitter by,” she says. “I have a tough time hating my email when Hoover comes over to say ‘hey.'”
Elana Dweck, who manages the Etsy Design Studio and brings her fluffy, friendly Golden Retriever to the office 2-3 times a week agrees. “Overall I think he lifts up people’s spirits, mine included,” she says. “He is also really goofy and cute which is a good reminder that nothing is such a big deal, even if a work thing is stressful at the moment. He offers levity to situations, and he gives good hugs.”
Whether they’re belly-up begging for a little afternoon scratch or following their owners to meetings with tails wagging, having dogs around during the workday also increases the brain’s ability to solve problems, says learning and development consultant Paloma Medina.
Medina, who has lectured on creative problem solving at Etsy, bases these insights on research and first-hand experience. “Stress levels decrease and laughter and levity increase when a dog is present in an office,” she says. “Further research shows that decreases in stress and increases in joy are critical for improved focus, productivity and creativity at work.”
And we’re not the only ones who find inspiration through working with pets. From Georgia-based paper goods maker Leela Robinson (photographed below) to Uruguay-based felt designer Claudia, the Etsy community is full of furry friends who offer creative support and lots of love to makers and curators during their creative process.
An added bonus is that many of the dogs in the Etsy community and the office are rescues. There’s the family of rescue pit bulls that belong to North Dakota-based jewelry designer Dana, or the adorable (and Internet-savvy) Fish Dogg Hunt, who was adopted by Etsy’s creative designer, Randy Hunt. Much like our wares, these pups come with stories.
Whether you work with animals, volunteer at your local shelter, or simply admire them from afar, there’s no doubt dogs enrich our lives and inspire creativity. So next time your four-legged companion collaborates on a project, be sure to give them the raise they deserve.
How are you inspired by your pets?