22 January 2014

Office romances: the reality show at work

That good-looking colleague always has a warm smile for you in the morning, and a cheery greeting whenever he or she walks past your desk. A business discussion leads to a cup of coffee, and then a suggestion for a weekend outing. This could get serious.

 I asked “CT”*, a Senior HR practitioner who has more than 20 years’ experience both in the private and public sector, about office romances. "It's difficult to keep office romances quiet, so you must be prepared for the embarrassment if it doesn’t work out, or if he or she dates another person at work," she replied.

Wouldn't an office romance be very similar to having a married couple working in the same office? CT agreed that there are challenges if you are married and colleagues at the same time. "Married couples face the same challenges, as their 'up' and 'down' times are very public. Unless they are quite clear about keeping their private life out of the office, just confiding in one friend in the office will make the ups and downs in the relationship public. If the marriage or relationship is strong enough to withstand the public scrutiny, then great, but very few relationships can."

Whether the romance involves two single people, an affair, or very senior staff, CT emphasised that discretion is required. "If you can't be the soul of discretion, you should not be in such a relationship." she warned.

*Not her real name

*CT is available for consultation sessions.