Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Dogs at work
Nothing beats going out on a story.
Yes, the telephone is helpful: quick, often necessary, and usually you have to settle for that. Voices on a line. Email is easier and worse—harder = better in journalism, as in so much of life—because people writing emails tend to sound like minor functionaries crafting official statements.
But visiting tops them all because being there answers questions you never think to ask.
For instance. At the end of last year I was writing a big piece on manufacturing in Illinois, and I decided to focus, among several companies, on PBC Linear in Roscoe, Illinois. The PBC stands for "Pacific Bearing Corporation." Why them? Bearings seemed hard core industry. They just said "industrial" to me in a loud voice.
So I drive out to Roscoe, find the company. The secretary summons Tom Schroeder, chief operating officer and son of the founder, and as we step into the office, dogs come running to check me out. They have a "dog-friendly" office and, true to promise, these are friendly dogs; well, indifferent anyway, mildly curious, which is friendly enough. Why? Basically because Schroeder wanted to bring his dog, and it only seemed fair to let anybody else who wanted to bring a dog as well. A fair boss, miribile dictu. The dogs give a warmth to what otherwise could have been a bland and starkly functional corporate place. They lend humanity, ironically enough. Had I done my business over the phone, I never would have thought to say, "And dogs ... do you have dogs in your office?" While their web site does say they are "dog-friendly" that wouldn't catch my attention the way seeing a pack of dogs loping around the headquarters did.
The practice is highly unusual. A small, but growing phenomenon: only 7 percent of employer allow pets in the workplace in 2016, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, up from 4 percent two years earlier.
That's it. That's all I have to say at the moment. Dogs in the office. But more, you know, tomorrow. I hope.