If you are a single guy or gal that has developed a crush on your co-worker, boss, or a member of senior management, you may be debating whether or not to spark an office romance. If so, Paul A. Falzone, CEO of the bricks and mortar dating service The Right One and Together as well as new online dating service, eLove, warns that getting involved at the office may entangle more than your heart.
“The lines of propriety and acceptable office conduct can get blurred when your attraction to someone you work with is stronger than that little voice in your head warning you about getting involved at the office,” explained Falzone.
He continued, “If you’ve been burned by an office romance before, then you’re aware of the potential repercussions. But, for those who came away unscathed from an office romance or who have never dated a co-worker, a few simple rules will help you keep things in perspective so you do not jeopardize your reputation or job if you do decide to date someone from the office.”
Falzone offers several pointers:
Check your company’s dating policy. If your company has a dating policy, there’s probably a really good reason behind it. Be sure you have read and understood it, and if there is a “gray” area, have your Human Resources department explain it to you. If your company does not have a dating policy, then you’re on your own and should read on.
Never date a co-worker who is a subordinate. Although you both may be single, many companies strongly frown on dating subordinates due to the potential for sexual harassment claims and lawsuits, which are extremely costly. The bottom line is, the company may cover the legal fees, but the employees involved will probably pay the price.
If you’re married, date your spouse, not your co-worker. Most divorces are due to infidelity, and the most common place to meet someone to date or carry on a full-blown relationship is at the office. Don’t kid yourself for even a minute that your office affair with that married individual is untraceable. Divorce lawyers know all the tricks and can track emails, phone calls, cell phone calls, etc. Your romance will more than likely come to light and that office grapevine works fast. Even though your job performance may be stellar, your character will take a direct hit. It may even negatively influence how quickly you move up the corporate ladder.
Lighten up on the flirting. So, you’re dating your co-worker and things are going well. In fact, you two are a hot item. That being said, go easy on the flirting, sexy emails and public displays of affection. After all, it is a place of business. One or more of your co-workers may tire of your behavior, find it disrespectful or even become jealous and insecure enough to bring it to senior staff’s attention.
Go slow, get to know and be discreet. Don’t just start dating a co-worker on the basis of physical attraction, get to know him or her better. Then, if you do have a lot in common and believe your co-worker is the trustworthy sort who won’t divulge info about you or your personal life, then you could gradually move on to dating. It’s better to find out before you date that co-worker that he/she can’t keep anything to him/herself and is the central source for all office gossip. Otherwise, you may discover that the latest buzz around the water cooler is about you, for better or worse. If you do begin dating a co-worker, there’s no need to announce it or flaunt it. Practice discretion.
Falzone concluded, "Even though there is a small percentage of folks who work together, date each other and end up happily married to each other, it's a long shot and singles need to be aware of that."