Before Falling Head Over Heels, Pay Attention To The Pros and Cons of Dating An Office Coworker
Work + Life Balance

Before Falling Head Over Heels, Pay Attention To The Pros and Cons of Dating An Office Coworker

by Kaitlin King
Photos Mallory Benedict | September 03, 2015

WITH LONG WORK HOURS STRETCHING INTO EVENINGS AND WEEKENDS, OFFICE ROMANCES ARE BECOMING COMMONPLACE. BUT IS IT EVER ACTUALLY OK? 

Ah, true love. You were just sitting in a meeting, concentrating on the budget report, when boom! Your eyes meet from across the room. Your eyes linger, you suddenly feel nervous, you begin to sweat and fidget, and your mind starts to race. This new employee is gorgeous, smart, successful, and the latest star of your daydreams.

While this kind of forbidden love might have been a rarity in generations past, Millennials have a decidedly different attitude. According to a recent Workplace Options survey, 36% of Generation X employees (ages 30-40), and 29% of Boomers (ages 47-66) say they would have a romantic relationship with someone in the office. For employees in the 18-29 age range, 84% are open to being more than cubicle buddies with a coworker. {Click to Tweet} 40% of Millennials say it wouldn’t even matter if this person was higher up versus a mere 10% approval from older peers.

Stats aside, what should you really do if you happen to fall for Mr. or Miss Dreamy in the workplace?

KNOW YOUR COMPANY'S STANCE

The traditional taboo of office dating is clearly changing, and companies are preparing for that change. However, every organization is different. Make sure you know what your organization’s policies are around office dating, and weigh professional consequences while exploring the relationship. Even if you decide to keep the relationship a secret, remember the people around you are smarter than you think - sooner or later, the secret might get out.

The traditional taboo of office dating is clearly changing, and companies are preparing for that change.

Related: Check Out These Top 5 Dating Apps for Hardworking Women

KEEP IT DISCREET

Wouldn’t it feel super awkward if a colleague’s boyfriend kept showing up to the office to kiss and fight in between meetings? Think about the impact your relationship could have on you and your partner’s career in and out of the office. When I was an HR Manager, transparency about relationships with leadership was encouraged to ensure we managed conflicts of interest effectively. I always advised the couples that I did not want to know the details, and neither did anyone else in the office, of their relationship. Just as we don’t always like hearing all of the sappy details about our colleague’s romantic vacation over lunch, so the majority of your team may not enjoy witnessing you and their other coworker cozying up nonstop in the office and on social media.

CONTROL "WORK TALK"

A concern for company leadership about interoffice fraternizing is that the labor they put into running the company successfully would be compromised - decisions would be biased, important information exchanged with indiscretion, and objectivity skewed.

It can be tricky to navigate conversations about work with a loved one, and especially difficult to maintain neutrality. For both partners’ credibility and integrity, it’s important to allow strong results to speak for themselves, and to minimize any job-related impact the relationship might have. {Click to Tweet} There can be great things to be learned professionally from dating a colleague, and personal development is a result of any healthy relationship. Be sure to pay attention to the type, and frequency, of your work conversations. 

Even if you decide to keep the relationship a secret, remember the people around you are smarter than you think - sooner or later, the secret might get out.

Related: Staying Present at Work

If you’re still unsure of what to do when it comes to dating in the workplace, trust your gut. While 31% of office relationships do result in marriages, you will probably know soon enough into courtship whether or not it will be a good thing to pursue. Always keep your professional head held high, regardless.