The rules of love in the workplace

If you can remember that far back, you’ll know that school was always more fun when you were going out with someone. It just gave you that extra spring in your step during an otherwise long and dreary five-day week. Well, it seems us mere mortals don’t change – the workplace is just the same…

But, far from the carefree days of your youth, romance at work can get a bit complicated. There are jobs to do, colleagues to keep happy and protocol to follow, to name but a few. Don’t panic, though – we’re not saying we’re against office romances. They are, after all, the start of many a long and happy relationship. We’d just like to lay down a few ground rules that will ensure you keep on the right side of the boss, and your colleagues!

Firstly, when a manager falls for a member of their team, dynamics can become tricky. The obvious problem is favouritism. You may well find yourself allowing your love interest longer lunch breaks, or letting them off the hook for laziness. This can be devastating to the team’s morale, so it’s incredibly important to keep things fair. But be warned: even if you do keep things professional, if your team know about your romance then they’ll be on the hunt for signs of preferential treatment. So keep your wits about you!

Staying on the manager/subordinate theme, there’s an obvious issue with discipline. Perhaps your love interest believes they should not be reprimanded for an office offence. Or perhaps you, as the manager, now feel uncomfortable laying down the law. When romance is involved any hierarchy flies out the window, leaving both parties uncomfortable and unsure of boundaries.

Whilst most relationships are consensual, there’s always the risk of being accused of harassment or discrimination. Sometimes it’s hard to know if your feelings are reciprocated, and one misguided advance could lead to a legal issue that snowballs into disaster. So keep your cool, don’t push it and always be respectful of another’s space and privacy.

And then there’s the risk of fall-out. When an office romance goes sour, the word ‘awkward’ takes on a whole new meaning. It’s not as though you can bolt and never see that person again. Nope – they’re there every…single…day. This type of situation can lead to a less than friendly work environment, and even absenteeism. So before you jump in head first, remind yourself of the implications of a failed romance.

You also need to remind yourself that you’re in a goldfish bowl – every move you make as a couple will be scrutinised and gossiped about. It’s just part of human nature. This level of examination can have a massive impact on a relationship – after all, you’re not used to having your love life on show. So if you truly want to be with the person, make sure you avoid PDAs.

Lastly, when people fall in love, they’re likely to daydream – they’re less ‘on the ball’ and more inclined to take longer lunches. They are, to put it simply, distracted. So, whilst having that loving feeling is intoxicating, remember that it’s important to stay in the here and now so that you can continue to do your job properly.

We hope we haven’t put a downer on your newfound romance! It’s just important to go into these things with both eyes open. Love can do funny things to people – hence why it’s sometimes referred to as a temporary madness! So enjoy your Valentine’s Day by the photocopier, just make sure you stay professional!

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