Job Tips

There's no need to give office romance the kiss-off

This is a column on workplace issues

The Straits Times - February 24, 2013
By: Anita Gabriel
There's no need to give office romance the kiss-off
  • LOLA asked: I'm a secretary in a trading firm and really fancy one of my colleagues. We've gone out a few times and I believe I now have strong feelings for him. Is it okay to have an office romance? My biggest concern is if it doesn't work out and I have to face him every single day.

The employed generally spend more time in the office than at home so it can be forgiven that the workplace inadvertently turns into a hotbed of romance for some.

In fact, one can even argue that it may be more effective than hunting for a potential partner on online dating sites or sitting alone at a bar corner.

"Executives these days are time-strapped to socialise outside of work. Hence, the office is fast becoming one of the places where busy professionals find their life partners," says Mr Josh Goh of The GMP Group.

You've got company. Recent studies have shown that over 30 per cent of employees have dated someone in the office and of that, a third get married, says Ms Karen Clifford, Towers Watson's South-east Asia and India HR director.

Having said that, some firms have strict rules which forbid office relationships. You should find out if yours does.

If it doesn't, it should be of little concern to the company if you are having a relationship with your co-worker.

Unless, of course, your behaviour is impacting your performance or other employees, says Ms Clifford.

That's the key - office romance is fine for as long as you remain professional and discreet while at the workplace. And this - as long as it does not negatively impact your job performance.

Based on your role in the firm, and if you think there could be a conflict of sorts, it may be a good idea, once the relationship is past its early stage, to be open to your managers, says Ms Clifford.

There are several things to consider.

How should you manage your working relationship without jeopardising your individual careers? Is there a possibility of either one of you being transferred to a separate department or a regional office?

These are important questions to consider and discuss, says Mr Goh.

Naturally, you are right to worry if things do not work out between you and your colleague.

Bumping into an ex once at the mall while the break-up is still fresh is hard enough, so one can imagine the unease of seeing him every day in a place where you spend a considerable amount of time.

A few don'ts to keep in mind.

Never use e-mail or instant messaging to send love notes to your sweetheart.

"Technology in your workplace is not private and may be monitored; and it belongs to your company," Mr Goh advises.

Apart from that, the universal laws of entering a relationship applies - go with the flow.

"Do not let the risk of a failed relationship hinder you from finding your life partner. There is no harm in giving the relationship a chance to blossom," Mr Goh adds.