While it might feel like love at first sight, workplace romances can be anything but fairy tales. People spend a good deal of time at work, so it's natural that personal relationships will form between colleagues. However, inner-office romantic relationships have the potential to disrupt careers, impact professional behavior and even harm career growth. Use caution in pursuing inter-office relationships and give serious thought to potential repercussions.
Some companies discourage or even prohibit inner-office relationships. Check with your human resources office or review your employment contract to determine what your company's policies are. If you violate terms, you might be subject to reprimand or even termination. Some companies also ask staffers involved in office romances to sign relationship contracts or similar paperwork that absolves the company of responsibility, should the relationship turn sour.
Getting involved in an office romance has the potential to affect your productivity and cloud your professional judgment. There is the risk of favoritism accusations if you date a subordinate, and colleagues could think you’re getting preferential treatment if you date a superior. If the relationship doesn't work out or turns negative, the workplace can become uncomfortable, or even volatile. Ask yourself what it would be like to go to work every day and be face-to-face with a former paramour if the relationship doesn't work out.
Colleagues may be attracted to each other through mutual interests and initial friendship. Working with a significant other might produce positive results if you're both on the same wavelength and are able to complement one another professionally. You might feel you have a greater work-life balance if you’re able to see your romantic partner throughout the day, rather than relegating your relationship to after-work hours and weekends.
Two single people finding each other in the workplace and pursuing a romantic relationship is understandable. If one or more parties is married or otherwise committed, it has the potential to be disastrous. Employees who have workplace affairs often rely on their colleagues to cover their tracks and lie to their respective spouses. Others use the workplace to conduct their liaison and lose focus on work and professional responsibilities. Not only can this damage personal and professional relationships, but it can also influence workplace morale and overall productivity.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.