If you find yourself in a relationship at work, it’s not going to be all plain-sailing and you need some pointers in how to handle an office romance. It’s strange that there is so much etiquette about love in the workplace considering how many people meet their partners at work. Businesses of all sorts are obviously concerned that people getting together at work could have an impact on their productivity and their colleagues, but if you know how to handle an office romance, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a successful career and a successful relationship.
1. Review Your Company’s Policy on Dating
Companies have varying policies on how to handle an office romance. Some ban dating among co-workers altogether, some ban it only within a chain of authority, and some don’t ban office romances, but they must be conducted within certain agreed-upon parameters. Companies that allow it still must enforce any hint of sexual harassment, so discretion is extremely important. In companies where interoffice dating is banned, you will have to address the possibility that one of you will likely lose your job if it’s discovered.
2. Stay on Your Own Level in the Hierarchy
When any relationships develop between co-workers, there are a number of problems that could develop, but these problems become serious when one is supervising the other. Avoid at all costs becoming involved with some who is your superior or who works for you. At the very least, these entanglements will affect both your work and home life. Your co-workers will figure it out, and it will be difficult to avoid accusations of favoritism. If management discovers the romance, they may dismiss both parties or move one party to a different location within the company. There are very successful relationships that have begun as boss/subordinate, but you’ve got to be aware that one of you is already in a position of “power” over the other and to not let this continue into or affect your relationship outside of the workplace. Boss at work – yes. Boss in everything else – no!
3. Avoid Public Displays of Affection
Any signs there may be a romance between you and a co-worker should be kept in your private life. No extended gazes, no watching them with a smile on your face as they leave the room. No calling or meeting each other for transparent reasons. No one is going to believe you had to get supplies from the office supply closet together for the last 5 days in a row. In this age where the lines between public and private lives are often blurred, try not to meet for lunch or dinner in locations frequented by your co-workers, either. Be ready and prepared for when you are going to “go public”.
4. Consider Looking for Another Job
One way to deal with an office romance is to take the office out of it. If the relationship gets serious, one of you should consider looking for another job. This may be for the benefit of both the employer and your relationship. It is difficult not to bring your home life to the office - if you had an argument during your off-work time, for example, it would be difficult to work in the same office with that person when you’re still feeling angry. Likewise, if there is a difficult situation at work, it would be harder to leave work time at the office and not bring it home with you.
5. Plan for the Worst
Yes, it’s difficult, while you’re in the throes of an office romance, to think about what might happen if you broke up. Many people find their eventual spouses at work, but it’s also possible that the romance won’t work out. This will not only affect you, but may also affect the entire office. Will the two of you still be able to work together? Try to come to an agreement on a course of action should things fall apart romantically.
6. Maintain Your Normal Routines
If you rarely crossed in front of the office door of your romantic partner before you got together, don’t start now. Don’t call each other any more frequently, don’t seek advice more often than you used to. Don’t let the office romance interfere in any way with your decorum and professionalism. Your employer should not be able to notice any change in your productivity or your office routines.
7. Weigh the Career Risks
Finding a romantic partner may be more important to you than keeping your current job. But consider how it will look to future employers, especially if a messy break up was involved and you were forced to leave. If it doesn’t work out for you, it could bring a number of career-threatening consequences. For example, there may be threats of sexual harassment. If one becomes a supervisor and gives a bad performance review on the other, the relationship may be brought into it as a factor.
There’s no need to be put off finding love at work – if you’re armed and ready because you know how to handle an office romance - go for it and get together with the hottie in the corner cubicle. Did you meet your partner at work or have you changed jobs because of a failed office romance?