How To Balance Work And Romance In the Workplace

There will be all sorts of official reminders from HR, horror stories spoke in whispers by colleagues and generally speaking, some pretty valid reasons why you should never get involved with someone you work with.

The fact is that in spite of whatever warnings are given, workplace romances both can and will definitely end up happening, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as genuinely happy relationships can blossom from a work romance, but at the same time if things do not work out they can get very, very messy.

If you do have your eye on someone in the workplace then it is important to remember that you need to balance your passion with your professionalism at all times. To help with that, you might want to consider some of the following points when it comes to balancing workplace romance.

Think Carefully About Who You Get Involved With

Whilst you may think rightly or wrongly that attraction and love are involuntary, you simply can’t afford to think that way if you decide to get involved with someone at work.

If you choose to get involved with a co-worker that is not your superior or junior,  then you are in a situation which depending on where you work and what HR guidelines can apply, should be fairly straightforward to manage.

Getting involved with your boss or manager, or being in one of those two positions and getting involved with an employee is more difficult, and sometimes outright dangerous. The rules and regulations many companies have in place when it comes dealing with this kind of thing can be harsh, and if you do choose to commit and go public do not be surprised if one of you ends up being reassigned, relocated, or asked to leave their position altogether.

Some other firm advice would be to steer well clear of getting involved with both clients and married colleagues, as these, can also lead in many cases to dismissal for either or both parties.

Check That Your Romance Won’t Get You In Trouble

Whilst we are on the subject of getting in trouble for workplace romances, be sure to check what the guidelines your office has about them before you decide to get involved any further.

Whilst it was touched on in the previous point that some romances might not cost you your job, they could see you forced to relocate to anything from a different floor, to an entirely new office. This kind of upheaval could impact not just your job, but your new relationship as well, potentially damaging it just as it begins.

On a darker but very important note, be sure to check the guidelines your company has about consensual relationships and engagements, especially if you’re brave (or foolish) enough to hook up with someone in the building. Harassment of any kind is becoming far less tolerated in workplaces these days so be sure as to what you are doing cannot possibly come back to haunt you in this way.

Avoid Getting Physical Whilst At Work

Whilst it is all very well checking your workplace guidelines about getting involved with someone at your office, you should look to avoid any kind of physical intimacy in the office at all costs.

Whilst a lot of people will ignore this advice and prefer the “thrill” or risk of getting caught in a compromising situation at work, this can be viewed, depending on what rules your office has about this kind of behaviour, career suicide.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid being harshly disciplined for this kind of behaviour in the office. Obviously, it has been something which just like a work romance, has happened no matter what the rules or warnings have been and probably will continue to but that doesn’t make it justifiable.

This is the place you work at not your home, and your primary reason to be in your place of work is to work, so remember to be a professional and avoid displaying any kind of affection when you’re there, even if you’ve been married for 20 years this point still stands.

Decide How Serious The Romance Is Early On

A crucial step when it comes to dealing with any workplace encounter is to determine how serious your triste was as quickly as possible. A drunken kiss under the mistletoe at the Christmas party can always lead to more, or not, just as much as getting a bit friskier can. 

Just because you have had an encounter with someone in the office you like, may think you like, or hadn’t ever really given much more of a thought to, does not mean it has to go any further, and that is good as it can be buried under the mat and not impact on your work lives any further.

But a key thing is to make sure that both of you are on the same page about that from as early on as possible. Don’t decide it was just a kiss, or a one-off sexual encounter and then choose not to discuss it because it didn’t mean anything to you or because you have now decided this is where you work and you don’t think it appropriate.

A pair of professional adults should be able to have a conversation about this, and dismissing them out of hand could lead to unwanted drama in the workplace, and even disciplinary action if both parties are not on the same page about what happened. 

Remember This Is Where You Both Work

Every single career goal or gain that you or the person you think you want to step-out with has ever had, is at risk the second you get involved with them. This isn’t scaremongering, it is a fact due to the ever increasing sensitivity around men and women’s non professional relationships in the office.

Though it might seem cynical to ask whether or not romantic happiness is worth more than your professional aspirations, it is not only a fair question but one that not only you but, the person you are also involved with should ask yourselves and each other.

It isn’t just your employers you will have to face questions and judgement from. Your relationship with your colleagues could well be impacted by your decision to couple up, and it could upset dynamics in the office in ways you hadn’t imagined before.

As for trying to keep your romance secret, it would be best to avoid doing this at all costs, because even if you both want to have the freedom to explore how you feel and where the romance could go, your employers and colleagues may still take a very unfavourable view of this if they do end up finding out about it (and they do find out most of the time).

Balancing romance and work is never easy, but as much as people think it can be easier if you both work in the same place, the total opposite can also be true. If you both want to make a go for it then, by all means, feel free to, but make sure you both have done enough thinking about it beforehand.