Today’s workforce spend their major time with or at work. Making unofficial interactions outside work almost negligible. With every other person choosing to join the workforce today, it comes as no surprise to me that a lot of them end up finding excitement, passion, and romance within their office space in the form of a co-worker. In January 2015, a survey conducted on Indian companies by CareerBuilder stated that over 36% of Indian professionals had dated somebody who worked for the same organisation, out of which about 37% of them went on to marrying their co-worker.
It is amazing to find your life partner at work, who would understand your schedule, share the common social group and manage both home and work easily.
Mild interactions in the corridors, in the lift, in the conference room, or during an office party for that matter do, at times, lead to a feeling of attraction towards a colleague. As much as we wish to conform to our code of professionalism and avoid romantic contact, if at all you happen to be among those who is currently involved in, or contemplating an office romance, I’d say you read on in order to steer clear of any kind of misery, or even unemployment for that matter.
If workplace romance is something you believe can be avoided - congratulations, you are safe! However, if you happen to be into the idea of exploring things, then let us understand our cans and can’ts, and how to go about it.
Know your company laws
While most companies do not have a section dedicated to workplace romance, some organisations do have policies of their own. It is wise to read through the Code of Conduct that your company follows in order to avoid any mishaps in the future.
Stay away from married people
You would stand little to no chance of winning the support of people who would speak in favor of your relationship. It is best to refrain from getting involved with someone who is married, since the person has a spouse involved, and may even be sharing children with their partner. One must think of consequences before getting into something like this.
Evaluate gestures and responses
At some or the other level, every professional puts on a mask while at work, which means that they might be a completely different person once out of the office premises. In order to avoid misreading signs and signals, one should be more observant towards the behaviour of a co-worker they seem to like. For example: is he/she really different when around me, or are they this way with everybody, or are they being genuine in their conduct or could there be other underlying causes behind it - these are some of the things one could analyse. It is always better to be safe than to be sorry.
Ensure it’s just you
Office romance has one putting in a lot at risk such as their jobs, professional respect, etc. It is thus important to be sure that the person you are dating is worth these risks. Before getting too involved or making any kind impulsive decisions, make sure that it is just you he/she has the eyes for, and that you are not just another workplace milestone or bucket-list wish for them!
Remember, workplace is different from your social or personal circle, which is why caution is key. For example: holding hands playfully, or laughing/giggling too much among yourselves can garner unwanted attention from those around you. Flirting, or any kind of interaction between yourself and the person you are dating should be discreet so as to safeguard you against negative attention from other co-workers.
Avoid physical intimacy at the workplace
It is all part of one’s ethical code of conduct. As professionals, we are expected to adhere to the norms of our organisation, and so the equations one ends up building at a personal level should be kept away from one’s office premises. Physical intimacy can take place before or after work hours, and choosing to do the right thing at the right time should be our point of focus.
Be careful with what you write
During a budding romance, it is natural for people to converse in a certain manner in order to build up on affection and intimacy. However, by virtue of being co-workers, one must be careful while exchanging text messages or emails with the person you are dating. For instance, emails sent and received among office employees are not kept confidential within the company, which is why constant vigilance is crucial to your safety and survival at your workplace. It is important to be alert during any kind of intimate communication taking place between the two of you that may involve things that you have written to each other.
Know who to share about your love-life with
As humans, don’t most of us wish to tell any many people as we possibly can about our new romance? We often share our love-life updates with our friends or with people within our social circle, but what about our colleagues at work? It is always safe to make sure that the colleagues who do happen to know about your office romance are all trusted individuals so as to avoid featuring in your workplace gossip session.
Be prepared for backlash
For co-workers who are in favor of keeping their relationship under wraps - there are always chances of people at work finding out about your romance, and so it is important that you be prepared to deal with its unfavorable consequences such as harsh comments from your colleagues, or humors floating about you within the workforce. Also, in order to be safe, if you believe that making your boss aware of your relationship in the most subtle manner could be a possibility, then it would be wise of you to do the needful in order to stay clear of the news reaching your boss’s ears as part of an office gossip.
Save your quarrels for before or after business hours
Every relationship, as we know it, sees its fair share of highs and lows. What matters here is how, and rather when we deal with them. For those who are dating a coworker, an important factor to be kept in mind at all times is maintaining professionalism in the office. There may be times when a heated discussion or an argument is something one may be looking to address at the earliest; however, in the case of workplace romance, such things should wait, and must never take place while either one or both of the parties are at work.
Romance v/s Refuge
It is sure as hell not criminal of you to be dating your co-worker, but make sure that the both of you are in a relationship for all the right reasons. For example: dating somebody at work because it helps you find comfort, away from all the stressors of professional life is not a reason worthy of you getting involved with a co-worker. Shared interests, similar core beliefs, or compatible natures should be among those factors based on which you decide to romance a colleague.
Lastly, don't forget the reason of you being at work. You may have met your partner/date in your office premises but it still would be a place where fulfilling the goals of your company should be of prime importance. Your evaluation at work, especially with 360 degree feedback, may result from people’s attitude and opinion which may override their judgement of you involved with someone at work.
In a nutshell, you may romance your work but be careful in romancing your partner at work.
Love can expose us to many wonderful things, but if not treated with care, it has the power to cause misery and distress. Handle it with caution, and embrace each moment that it brings along.
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