The Office Romance: does love work at work?

Gosh it’s tricky, isn’t it? I met my husband at work. Granted, it was many moons ago when we were at uni, and we worked in low-pressure retail along with lots of other youngsters. But we somehow managed to be in the same working environment simultaneously without falling into each other’s arms or tearing each other’s eyes out as the mood took us.

Can you work with, or even for, the person you share your life with?

A quick survey of Team Challenge elicited a variety of responses, some humorous, some horrified, but all with the same essential vibe: “It depends”.

And it does depend. It is inevitable in a world where we spend so much time at work that we will meet like-minded people we share interests with and get along with. What happens, then, when you realize the attraction goes a bit deeper?

“NO WAY!” was the unequivocal response from one finance professional I asked. When I asked him to elaborate, he had this to say: “It is utterly inappropriate for a person to report directly to their life partner. That opens up a whole can of worms in terms of confidentiality breaches, favouritism (perceived or otherwise) and personal issues creating friction in a professional environment. It’s just not on.”

A Challenge Consulting teamster echoed this when she said, “Imagine you had a fight with your partner over breakfast one morning. Then imagine having to work for them all day, perhaps in a high-pressure situation. Would you honestly be able to remain 100% professional at all times? Having said that, if you both worked in a large organisation and in different areas, it would probably be okay.”

Another Challenge Consulting teamster commented: “In my previous job because there were a lot of different teams and a lot of young people, there were lots of different relationships. Some of them worked, some of them didn’t. The ones that didn’t used to lead to people moving teams or leaving and the ones that did work resulted in babies and marriage. So that can’t be a bad thing!”

All in all, the answer seems to lie in the reporting relationship of the people involved, the size of the workplace, the professionalism and discretion of the individuals, and the newness of the relationship.

As another Challenge teamster said, “It’s tricky if the relationship is new, fresh and lusty. I have read articles and watched programmes that suggest the effects can be as potent as drugs such cocaine. No-one should be at work off their face, if you get my drift. The other problem with a new, fresh lusty relationship at work is that there is no telling how stable it is as this stage, and the fallout can be ugly. Very ugly. It’s less risky when the relationship has had a chance to mature and stabilise.”

 What do you think?