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Your eyes meet over the photocopier, otherwise, early morning dull rides in the elevator morph into an exercise in stomach churning anxiety. “Coffee?” becomes code for “quickie?” in all its flirty, eyelash-fluttering intensity.
Office romances: the last surviving relic of the Madmen era workplace, and a very, very bad idea.
Yet, they are still incredibly popular, Bridget Jones had her Daniel Cleaver, Jim from The Office had Pam and of course – and perhaps most infamously of all, Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
In fact, Vault.com found that 56 per cent of business professionals admit to having had a workplace romance. And while there are stories of people meeting their future spouses at work (Business News Daily reports that a third of office relationships end in marriage), any kind of office dalliance in the workplace could have dire consequences for the pair of you.
Loose lips sink ships
Look, it’s unlikely to remain a secret for long; offices have an undercurrent of hot gossip and a romance, however pure, is likely to drive the loose lips around the water cooler into overdrive.
With companies retaining ownership over e-mail messages, you could also find your love notes in the hands of your boss.
Once the information is out it becomes radioactive. Often in ways you couldn’t have predicted:
It’s an invisible blot on your resume
Even if you consider the affair to be harmless fun amongst consenting adults, Managers could see your little indiscretion to be indicative of a larger problem with boundaries and authority.
That sort of information could be revealed during reference phone calls, snide comments at conferences or industry meetings or the plain old fashioned gossip grapevine.
It can affect your chances of advancement
Like it or not, your sexual behaviour can have negative effects on your professional reputation. It’s like opening the curtains to your bedroom and inviting your boss to stand outside and look in.
It can prevent you from getting hired at other companies
You may think once you move to another company, all will be forgotten, but gossip travels at the speed of light, especially through similar industries and people love to talk about sex.
It’s too much of a good thing
Imagine the best case scenario, the two of you happy in a committed relationship, you wake up together, commute to work together, work side by side all day, return home together, spend weekends, holidays and vacations together, see where I’m going?
It’s a recipe for disaster
If your romance manages to develop into a serious relationship you may find it difficult to manage both your private and professional personas.
Continuing any kind of office dalliance in the workplace could have dire consequences for the pair of you.
Throw in the added complexity of either of you being in a supervisory role over the other, and it could all blow up in your face.
And then things could get messy
Any relationship has the potential to fall apart, the difference with office romances is there is no escape. You are forced to see your ex every day, at work.
Picture your last big breakup, and how would you have felt if you had to interact with that person day in, day out, attend meetings sitting across from them or heaven forbid, collaborate on projects, with the person who broke your heart, or whose heart you broke.
Mixing business and pleasure is a recipe for sloppy scenes of heartache and embarrassment and best avoided at all costs.
However, if you must have your cake and eat it too, be sure to set clear guidelines maintaining a professional distance at work.
And please, consider giving your boss a heads up about your new couple status and keep all shenanigans strictly home bound. That means no sex on the desk!
Have you ever schtupped – er, dated a co-worker? We’d like to hear from you! Share your experiences in the section below.