As I sat in the lobby of Amazon headquarters in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, I quickly realized who had the best job in the company: the receptionist.
That’s because the dozens of dogs that accompany their people to work there make a beeline for her desk whenever they walk by with the hope of getting a snack from the treat jar she keeps on her desk. They got lots of petting and scratching as well.
Her job is definitely a dog lover’s dream. Of course, working anywhere at Amazon would be a dog lover’s dream as the online giant is one of the dog friendliest companies in the world.
Amazon’s policy on bringing dogs to work is straightforward:
- Employees have to get manager and officemate approval for bringing their dog to work
- Dogs must be up to date on their vaccinations, housebroken, and well-behaved
- Dogs must be on leash when employees take them around the campus but can be off leash by their person’s desk if there’s doggy door
- Employees cannot leave dogs alone in their work spaces (so officemates can dog sit!)
- Employees with permission to bring their dogs to work must register them with the company
Amazon’s dog friendly policy is clearly popular with its employees. Currently, about 1500 dogs are registered on the company’s database of employees with permission to bring their dogs to work.
While I doubt all the employees on the list bring their dogs to work everyday, on any given day hundreds of dogs are on the Amazon campus.
Amazon’s dog loving policies are nothing new. It began in the company’s early days when a Welsh corgi named Rufus accompanied the company’s editor-in-chief and principal engineer to work every day.
Rufus still has his own page on the company’s website. Here’s how it describes his career at Amazon:
“During his tenure, Rufus could be found strolling our hallways, sitting in on meetings (he loved a meeting), or catching a few z’s in his crate. He was a master of the hallway tennis ball chase, and had everyone snookered into giving him too many treats.
His life was a great one. When Amazon customers found out there was an Amazon dog, they sent Rufus presents. (He was particularly delighted to receive an offering from friends in Guam.) His celebrity status never turned his head, though. His proudest accomplishment: starting up the dog-friendly culture at Amazon.com. Employees who bring their four-legged friends to work today have Rufus to thank.
Beloved by many, Rufus passed away peacefully on May 27, 2009.”
Rufus is still revered at Amazon. One of the buildings on its South Lake Union campus is named after him, and his name is stamped on door handles around the offices.
When Amazon built its new campus in Seattle it took great pains to make it as dog friendly as possible. Between the buildings are large, open courtyards that encourage people to walk their dogs.
Amazon designed the courtyards to ensure that the parade of dogs that employees take into the courtyards won’t destroy the landscaping by placing poop bag stations all over the campus. It also put a couple of feet of stones between the walkways and the plants where dogs can pee without hitting the plants.
But the coolest features are the dog friendly water fountains below every human-sized water fountain on the campus. All a dog has to do to get a cool drink is walk up to a ground level fountain and have its human press the button to start the water.
Due to visitor restrictions I wasn’t able to see people with their dogs in the campus’ buildings, but I assume the inside of Amazon is just as dog friendly as the outside.
Amazon’s commitment to dog friendliness even goes beyond its own employees. It’s future plans includes a small, off-leash dog park for both employees and the general public just off Sixth Avenue between Lenora and Blanchard streets in the Denny Triangle.
A couple of years ago it teamed up with Vulcan to make a $95,000 contribution towards the construction and maintenance of the temporary Denny Park Off-Leash Area.
Amazon is often lauded for being on the cutting edge of online businesses. After my visit to it’s Seattle campus, I realized it has also set the gold standard for dog friendly businesses. Hopefully, other large Seattle area employers will follow their lead.
Are you listening, Microsoft?
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