The Office Romance: Pros, Cons and Cautions

The Office Romance: Pros, Cons and Cautions

It’s not exactly spring yet when a young man’s (or young woman’s) fancy turns to love, but Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Not only that, this is a Leap Year when traditionally on February 29th a woman can propose to a man. That custom goes as far back as the 5th century. Perhaps your fancy is turning to thoughts of romance.

Is the girl or guy in the next cubicle beginning to look awfully attractive? Maybe you’d like to strike up more than a casual office friendship, If so, what should you do and how should you go about it? Before you make your first move, give it careful thought.

It is not unusual for people in today’s workplace to find their spouse or partner in the office. According to the American Management Association, almost one-half—49% to be exact—of office romances result in marriage or a significant long-term relationship. After all, most people spend more of their time in the workplace than anywhere else. If you choose to make a romantic move, be smart and know the rules.

Know the company policy. Some companies have strict policies against dating coworkers; some ignore it. Still others even encourage it. Although most organizations don’t want to intrude on their employees’ private lives, the shadow of sexual harassment looms large. And it is never wise to date someone who is your supervisor or someone who reports to you.

Set the ground rules. Discuss early on how you plan to handle the relationship around the office, and what you will do if things don’t work out. While that requires a level of maturity and discipline that is often hard to come by, do it if you both want to keep your job. Don’t put your career on the line for the sake of a romance that might not work out. Approach with caution.

Consider the effect on your job performance. Being in love can be distracting. If your focus at work is on the object of your affection and not on your job, you are putting your career at risk. Don’t spend more time in the copy room or at the water cooler than you normally would. On the other hand, job performance could improve when you are trying to impress that other person.

Be discreet and professional. It is never a good idea to discuss your romantic relationships with coworkers so keep the details to yourself. People will talk. There is no subject more fascinating than office gossip.

A few extra words of caution about romance in the office:

Observe the one year rule of dating in the workplace. Gradually become close friends with a co-worker. Start by keeping your interaction casual. This is definitely not the time to go head over heels right off the bat.

Be especially cautious if you are new on the job, whether you are pursuing or being pursued. Because you are a new hire, you will be under extra scrutiny. Your boss and co-workers will be watching your closely and observing your professional behavior.

Be wary of email. Don’t use the office email to correspond with the object of your affection. Remember that email is like the newspaper. Anyone can read it. Before you hit “send,” make sure that what you are sending is purely professional.

Steer clear of Facebook and other social media sites to post the details of your new-found love. That’s where people go first when they want to pry and spy.

Office romances can be fun and successful. Take the proper steps, however, to ensure that the relationship will last without interfering with your job and career. The wise couple is careful that any interaction in the office is purely professional. It’s a matter of having your career and dating it, too.

Here’s to finding love in all the right places!

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