Risky Business: The Pros and Cons of Office Romance

Flirty exchanges of emotions over Skype, stolen smiles as you play peacock at the water cooler and late night laughs as you share a take-out while perfecting your big presentation. The warning of mixing business with pleasure has become just another adage. And you are ready to dip your pen in the company ink… or are you?

the pros and cons of office romance

Traditionally a workplace romance used to be off limits or at least kept duplicitously behind closed doors. Today, however, it seems Gen-Y are stimulating another societal change.

According to a recent Workplace Options survey, nearly 85% of 18-29 year olds would have a romantic relationship with a co-worker, compared to just over 35% for 30-46 year olds and about 30% of 47-66 year olds. Pushing the norms that bit further, 40% of those 18-29 year olds would date their supervisors.

Another survey, by CareerBuilder, tells us that interoffice dating has a fairly high success rate, where 38% of people surveyed have dated a co-worker at least once and 31% went on to marry that co-worker!

Surprising? Hardly. These days, largely due to advances in technology and the accessibility of international online markets, companies never stop doing business. When one time zone sleeps, another is brewing their morning coffee. Employees, particularly those working in young or global companies, are spending more time inside the office than outside (weekends included.) Crazy work hours are a renowned encumbrance on your social life and an eradicator of your sex life.

Until one day you realise you don’t need to look further than the photocopier for a intimate affair. Suddenly, the intern who used to infuriate you is incredibly attractive or you are about to get intimate with the boss who used to intimidate you. Yes, you possibly need a well-deserved vacation. On the other hand, it’s incredibly common to fall for someone at work. It makes sense. You likely share similar interests, talents, experiences and of course, you share of a whole lot of time together.

the pros and cons of office romance

Some might go as far to say that those who can work together, will stay together. But let’s not get carried away. As alluring as this risky business may be, it’s no surprise that office romances can be rather difficult to navigate. If you’re beginning an office relationship or just considering one, it’s time to weigh up the pros and cons:

Team ready to go skinny dipping in the company ink

Before you make any moves, check your company’s policies to see if there are any rules on intra-office dating. If you are an employee of a modern office, chances are they will give you the green light. This is not because modern leaders have a soft center. It is reputed that certain multi-national companies encourage workplace romance because they believe this will keep you both working longer hours – if you both work in the same office then you are less inclined to be leaving early to meet each other and if one of you works late, your significant other most likely will too. In addition, these companies regard sending an office couple on a work trip together or relocating them as both cost effective and a convenience.

Going to the office is no longer a chore but a source of excitement. It’s natural to feel giddy at the beginning of a relationship, particularly when you’re spending time with your new love interest all day – in his office, at the coffee machine, in the elevator, but being lovestruck isn’t exactly professional. Tone down your titillation at all times.

Instead of wasting time outside the office explaining long work hours, late arrivals and date cancellations, you both will understand the dynamics of your office and the pressures faced by each other’s position. You will be better able to support the fast-paced transitions that happen hour to hour in the office and reschedule your personal time effortlessly.

Team keep business ties buttoned up

If your office does not support workplace romance, it might be a good reason to end things before they even begin, especially if the object of your affection is your supervisor or a subordinate. Think logically through the possible impact this will have on your career and your business relationships. What does your career path look like and could an office romance affect your chances of a promotion? Does the romance have real potential for the future and if not, is it really worth it?

As depressing as it might be, fast-forward to what a break-up might look like. How do you anticipate this person would handle the split. Would this person be mature or throw you under the bus? And for you, will it be too hard for you to see him/her in the office every day if the romance sours? None of this is fun to think about but it can save you a lot of heartache and career-ache down the line.

Normally, in a new relationship you may feel the urge to continuously recount your admiration for or your activities with your new-found fling. But in the office you need to consistently draw the line and keep the fine print to yourself. Keep your intra-office emails, texts, and phone calls work-related and keep the details of your love life toned down on social media. Planning a special evening or a romantic weekend getaway? Save the discussion for after hours or at least, out of earshot of your colleagues.

You may have to toss your pros and cons list aside because here is the dotted line. If you and your object of lust is on a second office relationship, this is one too many. Even if your workplace is a talent-pool of smart and good-looking potential dating partners, it’s not worth getting a reputation as someone who dates around at work. Or to be regarded as the victim of the water cooler casanova. Look for your next love interest in another place, preferably miles away from your office.

At the end of the working day, only you can decide what feels right for you. Choose your office romance team and embrace your decision with confidence. Consider writing your reasons down so you can reassure yourself in a moment of weakness. Strive to maintain your professionalism, dignity, and reputation – you’re worth it!

Have you flirted with an office flame or experienced a workplace romance? Tell us about it in the comments below!