By Louise Bauer Davoli
Our work settings are becoming a major source of intimate interaction. If you're not noticing Cupid's arrows among the flow charts and balance sheets, there is potential for unexpected surprises. On a daily basis, we share the same physical space, the stimulation of professional challenge, and the powerful emotions that we experience with accomplishment and failure.
When handled properly, experts agree, workplace romances can actually benefit companies. Romance can add spice to jobs that have become routine. Having a crush on a coworker can perk up an employee's productivity. Romance brings emotions back into the cubicles of corporate sterility. Once employees get past the initial ditzy, infatuation stage of being unable to concentrate on anything except their new love, an office romance has been found to raise worker morale, stimulate performance, enhance creativity and boost productivity.
Before you ask:
-Develop office relationship
-No means no
Written procedures help companies set up a professional and fair work environment that reinforces the company's preference for a productive workplace. The document should be understandable, complete and distributed throughout the company. It needs to be consistently applied and be complementary with other workplace policies. It's critical the procedures apply to all employees, regardless of their particular position, marital status or sexual orientation.
Taking a look at why we are more likely to fall for colleagues, and the consequences of acting on those simmering emotions may help us make the decision to pursue the relationship and decide whether or not your workplace romance is worth the risks. You have got to weigh the costs and benefits. For example, you realize that the relationship has the potential to become a significant part of your life and then you think—I'll chance it and take the consequences.
Establish office dating ground rules:
-Keep your relationship secret until you BOTH agree to go public
-Treat each other as you treat co-workers
-No retaliation if you break-up
Human resources may try to squash the notion, but men and women working together is a more romantic situation than a school campus. The work setting actually serves as a natural courtship ground, because at work, communication is encouraged. A long tiring job effort over a period of time will remove the veneer from the timid. Flirtatious signals may not be obvious, but they are continually being sent and received.