We spend an average 70% of our waking day in the office, so is it any wonder that some of our strongest relationships are formed at work? Whilst workplace dating can be difficult and has certain stigmas attached, it’s more common than you might think.
Credit: Toronto Star
Whilst the internet has hundreds of tips and tricks for hiding a workplace romance, here are 7 sure-fire ways to ruin your office love life and jeopardise your job at the same time:
Publicising the relationship
So, you’ve decided to embark upon the taboo office relationship. Whilst you may just have found your soul-mate and love of your life, this is not news that you need to broadcast to your office and should be kept under wraps, at least at the start of your new romance. Shouting about your new relationship status is not only likely to irritate your colleagues, it may also lead to feelings of jealousy. If your office and private life are intertwined in the eyes of everyone around you, how can you ever achieve a divide between work and life?
PDA of any form
Credit: Be Offices
Talking about your relationship too much can be irritating, but actually displaying your new love and affection in the workplace or in front of colleagues is much worse. Not only will you appear unprofessional and distracted, such displays may seem like a power and status play over your colleagues, creating an apparent united front as a couple against those around you.
Flirty emails and texts
Whilst the odd provocative text or email may seem absolutely harmless and private, such exchanges can be more damaging than you think. Such messages create a paper trail where your relationship is on the office record (if using your work email). This could be used against you, should your partner turn on you and decide to involve HR (or indeed if someone complains), and is valid evidence in any legal proceedings; you are using company time and facilities to send non-work-related messages, after all.
Whilst you may well agree with your new partner/colleague in many business related discussions, it’s highly unlikely that you would agree with them on every last thing. Make sure that your new relationship doesn’t impair your judgement when at work, and when discussing work issues in a group including your partner take care not to appear as if you’re taking their side over on every issue, over an opposing opinion you’d normally support.
Bringing drama into the office
Whilst it is recommended that you avoid all discussion of your romance in the office, of course you’re likely to touch on the subject with your closest work friends. However, whilst it may be nice to tell them a few things about the good, avoid the bad, and at all costs skirt around mentioning the ugly. This may affect their professional opinion of your partner (their colleague), and certain situations could leave them in a sticky situation, wondering whether to consult HR.
Credit: Maxwell Stephens
Having a relationship with a colleague is one thing, but becoming romantically involved with someone at a senior level (and especially your direct boss!) is another kettle of fish altogether. 16% of us admit to having dated a supervisor, and these relationships are less likely to last than those with others on our level. The biggest thing to be aware of is the appearance of favouritism. Whether or not this is the case, as soon as colleagues are aware of the relationship they will look for such distinctions and might use them against you. So even if no bias exists, make sure to avoid all appearance that it might be there!
HR policy: check the facts first
Whilst becoming a slightly antiquated policy, some firms still maintain rules about relationships with others employees – and particularly with your line manager. If this is the case, such a relationship could jeopardise both of your jobs. In this case in particular, but also in any office relationship, ensure that you’re not oblivious to the future. At some point you may have to consider whether one of you would be willing to move to another department, or leave the company altogether.
Despite all of the possible pitfalls and apparently insurmountable hurdles that plague office relationships, 30% of relationships with co-workers actually lead to marriage. And as 40% of us have dated a co-worker, this means that upward of 10% of the workforce found their husband or wife at work!
By Alexandra Jane
This article first appeared in Ms Career Girl.