In the corridors of ANSAM, it's not uncommon to encounter pets that add a touch of uniqueness and friendliness to our work environment. Among them is Shadow, the faithful dog of Michaël Charton, Apprentice Service Desk Technician. Michaël tells us more about the benefits of having his pet at work.
What is your professional background?
Having learning difficulties, I initially pursued a manual profession as a pastry chef. Due to an allergy to flour, I had to change my career path. Thanks to ORIF (Organization for the Integration of Disabled People), I had the opportunity to explore the world of IT, and I have been at EPSIC in Lausanne for 3 years now. As part of my IT operator training, I am in an apprenticeship program, working 4 days a week in a company. After several apprenticeships, ORIF partnered with ANSAM to place me within the group. The team was satisfied with my work and approved the sponsorship of my training.
Can you tell us more about your learning difficulties?
Since my childhood, I have suffered from dyslexia, which affects my ability to read, write, and spell fluently and accurately. Because of these difficulties and isolation, my self-confidence has been affected, and I find it challenging to interact with others.
Tell us more about Shadow.
Shadow is a 2-year-old Malinois. I adopted him when he was 3 months old. Besides my job as an apprentice, I also have a passion for dog training that I pursue as a hobby. Shadow is trained in obedience and regularly participates in competitions with judges. We even started training together for search and rescue dogs, but this additional training proved to be very time-consuming.
Why did you choose to adopt a dog?
On the advice of my psychotherapist, I got my first dog three years ago. This decision changed my life because I formed a strong bond with that dog. Thanks to his adoption, I made significant progress socially. With the goal of becoming a professional dog trainer, I wanted to get a second dog, which is Shadow. Unfortunately, my first dog suddenly passed away, which had a significant impact on my mental health and led to a burnout more than a year ago.
What do you think of the possibility of bringing your dog to work?
For me, this possibility has completely changed the way I work. After my burnout, I was very stressed about returning to my job at ANSAM. The HR team, particularly attentive to my situation, mentioned this possibility. At the time, Shadow was just a few months old. It seemed ideal because it was difficult to leave him alone. So, I went back to work with this new arrangement, and quickly, I felt more comfortable and overcame the emotional shock related to the death of my first dog.
In your opinion, what are the benefits of bringing your pet to work?
For me, Shadow is a real social catalyst. By nature, I am quite reserved, which is obviously not the case for him. He approaches people, which forces me to open up more. Moreover, in terms of organization, this possibility is a source of serenity. I don't have to worry about what my dog is doing in my absence, so I am more productive in my work.
Did you encounter any obstacles in implementing this way of working?
No, the setup was very simple after an interview with the HR team during my burnout. Human resources simply announced the arrival of this new employee with a special profile. At the time, Shadow was a four-month-old puppy, so he was less intimidating than he is today. Some colleagues who were initially afraid were able to get used to his personality over time and are now more confident.
Is Shadow sometimes disruptive at work?
Naturally, it is difficult for him to stay in one place all day, so he moves around a lot, which can be distracting. However, he is a calm dog who never barks. I don't think it bothers my colleagues; on the contrary, they are the ones who approach him to interact with him rather than the other way around.
Do you have any amusing anecdotes about Shadow at work?
It's quite funny because he is a very intelligent dog. He quickly figured out who gives treats. Every time he goes up and down the stairs, he makes his rounds to specific people. It's his ritual, and it allows me to say hello to everyone.