Working environments are a minefield we all have to learn to navigate.
We spend the majority of our time in the office, which means the biggest relationships we form are often the ones we form at work. But relationships (platonic or not) bring with them office politics that may have all manner of ramifications.
Still, you can’t really help who you fall for – and frankly, while I know that there are a lot of cons associated with love blossoming at work – I do think that it’s not necessarily all doom and gloom. And I do know some happy stories.
In fact, when I reached out to some folk on social media earlier this week, I received an overwhelming amount of them that ended in happily-ever-afters and are still going strong to this day.
More so than the negative stories (in fact, if you had a bad experience, share your experience with us and tell us whether or not you’d try it again – we’d love to hear from you).
I've been married to my office romance for 14 years now ... ;-)— KerryHaggard (@KerryHaggard) March 26, 2018
We worked on different magazines at a media company, and met by being representatives on an IT steering committee. We kind of skirted around one another, until he broke off a seven year relationship.
I was involved with someone, but the two of us spent about 2 months getting to know one another properly - at work and out for coffees etc. So - we were in the same company but didn't actually work together although our relationship caused quite a stir when it all came together!
After those first two months, we started dating properly - and everything went quickly after that. I moved in, we got engaged after six months, and married nine months after that.
Fourteen years and two sons later, we work at different companies now, but our work often overlaps.
Another reader says her office romance ended up in a happily ever after scenario, but that she’d generally advise against the idea.
Happily married to mine and currently expecting our first baby, but I think more often than not it’s a bad idea! It worked for me but I’d generally advise friends against it!— ??Kim Maule (@Kimberly_Maule) March 26, 2018
Richard and his wife are still going strong and are running their business together.
Met my wife 17 years ago within a corporate working environment.. been married now for 13 years and have worked together in our own business for all of that....— Richard Clemitson (@f2ae68136858480) March 26, 2018
Gaelyn and her partner have now been married for seven years
We did! We met in 2004 when we were working as paramedics, he was my senior and I was just starting out. We’ve been happily married 7 years now!— Gaelyn Cokayne (@gaecokayne) March 26, 2018
Another reader, Jillian* told us that she met her partner Garth* when their CEO organised work drinks to meet a number of the new recent hires. They hit it off immediately and spent most of the night chatting.
However, both were in relationships at a time, there was a significant age gap and he was from another country – Jillian didn’t think much would come of it.
A few years later and “one cheekily ambiguous email” later and things started changing.
Was she worried about how this would impact on the workplace environment?
*Not their real names
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While I’m not averse to the idea of dating someone at work, the more cynical side of me can’t help but wonder what happens when it could blow up in my face.
Can’t say I would have done it as it was frowned upon in my first place of employment and one of you had to resign. BUT in my current job an old boss was involved with a colleague in another dept, they are still married more than 7 years later and as far as I am aware happily so— Mrs FF (@fancyfunshy) March 26, 2018
Navigating a post-romance office environment – particularly if the break-up was acrimonious – sounds nothing short of hellish to me.
I wouldn't, at least not in the same department. But I know of three relationships that have worked, at least so far.— ?? Dani ?? (#ASeriesAMonth2018) - semi-hiatus (@dani_reviews) March 26, 2018
1. Small company, all one office, and they now live together but the woman has moved to another company.
2. A director brought his fiancee in to work for him as a manager. He LINE MANAGED her. We were not impressed at all.— ?? Dani ?? (#ASeriesAMonth2018) - semi-hiatus (@dani_reviews) March 26, 2018
3. Two people in my current office work in different departments. They're always winning costume competitions. She earns sig. more and he's supportive af.
Of course there are also those who said they wouldn’t and at least one person who said he’d never do it again because it went horribly wrong and could have had serious repercussions in terms of jeopardising his career.
WATCH: Stages of an Office Romance
And herein also lies the crux of the matter.
What happens when there’s a potential conflict of interests? And can companies actually prohibit any romance between employees?
We chatted to 24.com’s divisional HR manager, Jeannine Scheltens who provided us with a little insight into policies surrounding the issue.
Here’s what we’ve learnt:
- Companies can enforce rules prohibiting fraternisation if it’s part of their policy. Not all companies do, but it is possible.
- The main concerns are situations where a conflict of interests can arise, especially if the people involved work in the same department or if one person is reporting directly to another. This could also create unfair bias, particularly when it comes to key performance assessments (KPA).
- In instances where a conflict of interests arise, one of the employers would either have to move departments or resign and find employment elsewhere.
- Companies aren’t obligated to find a different position for you in the department, but as a common courtesy, HR departments can assist.
- If two people from different departments are engaged in a romantic relationship, there’s generally no problem with it as there’s no conflict of interest.
- People need to be cautious about having an affair with co-workers. While many companies don’t have policies around it, it can impact on the company’s values and you do run the risk of losing trust and respect of your co-workers if it’s brought to light. I.e. If you can cheat on your partner, then can you be trusted with your job?
Did your office romance have a happy ending? Or was it disastrous? Share your stories with us and we could feature in a follow up piece on W24.
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