How to Handle an Office Romance Without Damaging Your Career
“Don’t mix business with pleasure” runs the old adage. However, as long working hours have become the norm, the workplace has inevitably evolved into a prime location to meet potential romantic partners.
A Career Coach at Monster, comments: “They say you can’t chose who you fall in love with but when it comes to work, I would advise would be Romeo and Juliettes to approach with caution! What seems like a good idea after a work night out can quickly become awkward for one or both of you or even for your colleagues if not handled appropriately. It’s understandable though: you do get to see far more of a person’s personality when working with them, you have something in common and established chemistry at work. So, if you are truly and soberly lovestruck then the fact that you share an office shouldn’t be an instant elimator.”
For those about to embark on an romance with a colleague, Monster has the following advice:
- Do your homework. Ask human resources if your firm has a stated policy about dating colleagues. One universal ‘no no’, however, is for a boss to date his/her subordinate.
- Make the first contact an offline one. Skip the email. Make a discreet phone call to suggest a cup of coffee or a drink after work. If the answer is "yes," then meet after hours far away from the office. If you’re unsure what the answer might be, then some more groundwork might be needed.
- Be discrete. Before deciding to share your newfound joy with coworkers, wait a little while to see if your relationship has legs or if the two of you drift apart after the first few dates. It will be awkward enough without everyone else knowing your business.
- No ‘PDA’s. Save Public Displays of Affection for your off-hours. If you do get involved with a colleague, don't even think about holding hands in the company cafeteria, playing "footsie" under the conference table or a goodbye kiss before one of you heads to a meeting. Your co-workers will thank you for your restraint.
- Stay offline. Don't send romantic or sexually explicit emails. Your personal messages can potentially be read by anyone once you click the "send" button and you and your partner wouldn’t want the more ‘romantic’ thoughts to be seen by your colleagues.
- Don't compromise your work ethic. Continue to do your job efficiently. If your personal life begins to affect your work, you may be asked to choose between your career and your partner.
- Don't kiss and tell. No matter how friendly and supportive your coworkers seem to be, secrets seldom remain confidential. Don't say or do anything that you don't want your entire firm to know about. And while an office romance isn’t against the rules, bragging about it explicitly almost certainly will be.
- Be prepared to resign. Whether or not the relationship endures, be ready to change jobs. If your relationship does work out and the two of you decide to tie the knot, one of you should be prepared to look for another job – working together isn’t necessarily a recipe for long term happiness. Alternatively, if the relationship sours, it will be easier not to have to run into your ex partner every morning.
- Finally, Don’t make a habit of it. If you fall in and out of love as frequently as others change their socks, then remember that even if you are happy to work in the same office as your numerous exes, the chances are they won’t be. So if this is you, maybe you should stick to bars and clubs for your love life.