Workplace Romance: Business with Pleasure

In the spirit of the Valentine’s season, it’s fitting to bring up the topic of workplace romance. Given the amount of hours we spend with coworkers on a weekly basis, forming relationships that extend beyond the workplace is sometimes inevitable. Early in my career I've sworn that I would never date anyone in the workplace. But an interesting coincidence put me in a dilemma.

Some years ago I met a gentleman that I oddly had a lot in common with. We even had the same major in college and our initial conversation seemed like the makings of a great dating relationship. But apparently we were little too much alike, because I also found out that he would be starting a new job that very next day. And out of all places, it was the company that I was currently working for in the same department. So do I bring everything to a halt or proceed with caution? How is workplace romance viewed in today’s workforce anyway?

According to a WorkplaceOptions survey, how it may be viewed depends on your age. 84 percent of Millennial workers (ages 20-31) say they would have a romantic relationship with a co-worker, compared to just 36 percent of Generation X workers (ages 32-48) and 29 percent of Baby Boomers (age 49-68). Management columnist and author of In Office Hours, Lucy Kellaway says, “It’s one of the worst decisions you can possibly make. Office romances are… complicated and unprofessional.” Whether your point of view is new school or old school here are some things to consider.

What is your company policy?

Some companies have rigid policies against workplace fraternization either with those you work with internally or externally. It’s important to know what those are ahead of time.

What is the corporate culture?

Look around-- your workplace may not be the best place to hook up. Are there couples married as a result of meeting in the workplace or is there an unspoken rule that makes it taboo?

What are the long term affects?

In the beginning the thought may seem rosy. But could a relationship bring on real or perceived favoritism which could create scorned co-workers or worst yet a lawsuit?

The dynamics of a romantic relationship in the workplace can prove to be complex and there are definitely many more questions to consider. Just remember in the workplace with the matters of the heart, be smart.