When it comes to matters of the heart, or at least in the bedroom, it appears ‘don’t s**t where you eat’ has officially been swept under the office carpet.
For 75 per cent of Aussies, finding love at work isn’t off-bounds with new statistics from Indeed revealing that almost four in 10 have dated a colleague while one in six have gone all the way down the aisle.
“I am a serial work dater,” 28-year-old Monique from Melbourne told Yahoo Lifestyle.
She’s had three “major boyfriends” and she’s met them all at work, including Conor who she’s been dating for the last five years. The pair crossed paths while working on the same office floor.
“I started there in December and then around April I was like, ‘Oh he's a bit nice, he's a bit cute’, and we kind of hung out a little bit,” she laughed. “I think we both liked each other but backed off because we both really wanted to be taken seriously in our jobs.”
But as the months dragged on, sparks between the two continued to flicker.
“We kept going to these events together and hanging out in the same circles and it got to the point where I was like, I don't think I can just be friends with him,” she said. “I was weighing up work and the relationship and I was like, I think I have to pick the relationship and whatever happens, happens.”
You’re not going in blind
While dating apps have changed the game in how people meet, Indeed’s clinical psychologist Amanda Gordon says meeting someone at work has plenty of benefits.
“One of the reasons it can work so well is that you can observe the person in their natural environment, see how they interact with others and learn something about them, even before you start to date them,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle.
“You are not going in completely blind. You've actually got some knowledge of them before you go into it.”
And unlike dating apps, Monique says you’re not being judged on your physical appearance first.
“People are really getting to know who you are as a person at work,” she said. “They're not thinking about you first as ‘I want to hook up with this person’. I just think it’s a really nice place to safely get to know people.”
So how do you promote your office crush into a companion?
Find out if you really like each other
The first bullet point on any agenda for a personal partnership is working out if you’ve got the trajectory to be more than just workmates.
“Get to know them, talk to them, have a coffee in a normal sort of way,” Amanda recommended.
“That's a really important part to make sure that it's not just a crush because a crush is one thing. Building a relationship is something different.”
For Monique and Conor, it was a topic they talked about a lot.
“We ended up deciding to start going on dates and hanging out together but we did it very privately,” she said. “We'd pick places where we knew that none of our co-workers would go just to give us the space to figure out what it was before we made it official.”
Tell HR if you’re dating up or down the corporate ladder
When it comes to whether or not you should spill the tea with human resources, it’s all about your line of management.
“I think the issue for HR comes in particularly if it's people who are on different levels, who might have management responsibilities between them,” explained Amanda. “Either you report up to that person or they report down to you, or there could be a conflict of interest around certain issues.”
If that’s the case, then the psychologist says it’s “reasonable” to let HR know.
“Otherwise, quite honestly, it's none of HR’s business,” she said. “If you’re dating someone from a different team in the same company, it probably doesn't have to go anywhere near HR, it's just your private lives.”
Monique said she cleared the air with colleagues before going public.
“I started by telling my immediate team,” she said. “I was quite early into my career and I really wanted to keep the peace and be taken professionally, but ultimately people were really happy and supportive and five years later we're still together.”
Set some boundaries
The thing with an office romance is that there’s the risk the relationship will just become about work, or that all your time at work will be devoted to the relationship. Neither of which are healthy.
“It definitely was a lot to start with,” Monique said. “You’re working together, you go home together, you hang out on the weekend. I think it is probably a good thing that we don’t work at the same company anymore because by then we’d been dating for a year and it was probably time to step back.”
“It's really important you have some boundaries,” Amanda added. “You make the workplace have an endpoint at some point, but you also have some separateness so you're not together 24/7.”
Whether it’s joining different gyms, hanging out with your own friends or not crashing each others’ team drinks, even if you “love each other desperately” she says it's essential to “keep some separateness in some aspects of life”.
So with over half of Aussie workers admitting that they’ve had a thing for a co-worker, maybe it’s time to start sliding into their Slack.
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