A recent survey revealed that eight out of 10 Singaporeans think that office romances are acceptable. It is easy to understand why, as many people here spend around 22 days in a month and nine hours of the day in an office environment.
As unattached, busy working professionals have limited time for social activities, it becomes a natural — and convenient —progression for them to find someone they are attracted to within their organisation.
When love blossoms
The truth is, many of us spend more time with our colleagues than with our family members during the week. We see our colleagues in the morning, have lunch together and even spend dinner together when we need to work overtime on a project.
A romance can develop when colleagues spend a fair amount of time together on projects, and at meetings and company events. If they are part of the same team or perform a similar role, they will have much in common and understand the ups and downs of working in the organisation.
In such a situation, providing moral support for each other comes naturally. Romantic feelings may develop and soon the two colleagues become a couple.
If this reflects your own experience, just remember to proceed with caution. Though it may seem adventurous or thrilling to be dating your colleague, there are protocols that you need to observe as company employees.
Work morals and ethnics
It is prudent to carefully read your company’s employee handbook to see if there is any policy that forbids dating among staff members. If there is such a rule, it doesn’t pay to lose your job should the relationship be discovered and made public.
Even if there is no specific policy on office romances, you should make it a point to behave with professionalism at all times. Think of the consequences before you act. Draw a firm line between your work life and personal life.
It may be heartwarming to know that there is someone who cares about you, and who shares your triumphs and miseries in the office. However, you should never let your romance compromise your work performance.
Centre of attention
It won’t be too long before the cat is let out of the bag. Observant co-workers will soon notice that there is “something going on” between you and your partner, so be prepared for them to tease and gossip about you.
Though you and your partner may think that your romance is nobody’s business but your own, it’s inevitable that people will talk about you as long as you are with the company.
Breaking up is hard to do
The biggest problem with office romances is that if things do not work out, the break-up takes place over the same ground that brought a couple together in the first place.
When your romantic relationship is history, will you be able to handle meeting your ex-partner in the office, perhaps even working together on the same projects?
It will be awkward even if the split was amicable, but if the relationship did not end on a good note, going to work every day could turn into a nightmare. And you can bet on it that your colleagues will be gossiping about you and even taking sides.
In a situation like this, it is usually inevitable that one or both parties eventually ask for a transfer to another department or leave the organisation altogether.
Finding your life partner in the workplace may turn out to be the best thing you ever did, but go into the relationship with your eyes open. Be aware of the pitfalls that both of you could face.
Most importantly, continue to maintain your professional image in the office. Keep your personal life for after hours.