This topic is one that will be discussed without having a single definitive singular blog answer. Should I date someone in the office? The answer to this question depends on many variables.
Most people are quick to shout the answer “no” because of the perils one has to navigate
Let’s just look a little at this office dynamic situation.
Most people spend more time at work than they do any other place. Most jobs are eight hours long. Few sleep eight hours nightly. Factor in a social life, shopping, commutes, and overtime hours… you quickly see how it’s possible to be at work more hours than any other given place.
Most people date using the proximity bias. If they see someone, then, that person is more likely to end up being a romantic interest than someone they don’t see. The odds of dating someone fifty miles away is quite low unless that job is fifty miles away from home.
Instead of listing all the pros and cons of dating in the office, let’s just focus on how to make it work, should you decide to make it work. This assumes a few things of course… the work place allows dating… the work place is sufficiently big enough to allow transfers to different departments if things go badly.
For starters, leave the casual dating alone. Feelings get caught easily and can get complicated fast. One is better off just hanging out and getting to know people instead of just casually hooking up with people you work with. However, if you do want to casually date, be sure to over communicate this so no one is unclear about what is going on. Including yourself.
When considering dating, keep in mind the impact it has on your career. It’s not always just a job. Many have started jobs that have converted into careers due to factors outside their control. Making a move to date someone at work is very serious business.
One person joked that if everyone treated any form of dating as seriously as they do dating at work, far fewer hearts would be damaged long the journey of finding lasting love. (notice the lack of the word true or perfect or ideal in that sentence)
Some companies require disclosure statements and conversations with Human Resources to track a relationship to protect the company. Dating is not just about finding a person “hot” or “sexy”. There are ramifications and ripples to keep track of.
One of the biggest issues for companies is fairness and competition. Dating the boss or dating the subordinate has unintended consequences in the company’s decision making process. Feelings get in the way and clouds judgments. Imagine a boss having to reprimand their employee for stealing staples… but that employ is the significant other… yikes.
People can get a bit irrational when feelings get hurt. That’s why companies are careful with inside the workplace dating. Not that it never happens. But it’s a risk that has to be mitigated.
The single biggest thing to help a romance thrive in the workplace is compartmentalization. Outside of work, that can easily cause issues to the relationship when a person compartments their feelings. But, at work, that is what allows the relationship a chance.
How does that look? Being careful not to make the relationship too visible at work is the simplest way to explain this. Like, no deep sensual kissing in the conference room with peers chatting about work. Keep the public display of affection for… the public. Your job is not public space. (not that this blogger recommends folks push the limits of public displays of affection in public either)
More advanced tips
Skip dating someone outside of your rank if you can help it. Especially in your department. This is one area that dating up is just as bad as dating down. The power imbalance can easily create headaches for you and the job. If you have to date outside your rank, best as possible, do it outside of your line of work. Example, if you’re on the engineering team and you wanted to date the upper management of the public relations team… that would be better than doing so within your engineering team. Still dicey, but less fraught with issues.
Understanding your career goals is critical. How attached are you to working with this particular company? This comes into play should the company asks one of the members of the relationship to relocate to avoid conflicts of interests for the company. If you’re not willing to uproot yourself, then, be even more careful dating inside the office.
This should go without saying, but no gossiping! No sharing juicy anything with the work spouse… especially if the work spouse is not the one you’re dating. The wisdom of dating your work spouse will not be touched here… as that deserves it’s own blog post.
Keep private communications off the company’s network. That includes the WiFi and NFC connections as well. Those communications are part of the company’s log, property, and record once it hits their servers. No one wants the company lawyers ever having fun at one’s expense because one couldn’t be discrete enough not to use the company phone, email, WiFi. Please note, if you use your personal phone for company business… that gray line will get tested depending on where you live. Different jurisdictions handle that line differently. (getting a separate phones for the relationship may just be the cost of doing ‘business’)
Brush up on your communication skills. Dating someone at work is like the professional leagues of dating. You can’t be off your A-game. Know what to discuss when. Being patient enough to wait for the right times to chat about the relationship… as well as being wise enough to hide one’s emotions at work and keeping work outside the relationship when not at work.
Do yourself a favor, don’t make your dinner chats about work. Even if it’s a working dinner. If work is involved, it’s no longer a relationship moment. That may sound extreme, but those who make it work swear by this.
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