If you’ve watched the TV show ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ you probably remember the constant on-off relationships between the various surgeons (and occasionally, nurses,) at the hospital. That show was probably built on the main premise of office / workplace romances!
What exactly qualifies as an office romance?
An office romance is generally understood to be a romantic relationship between two people who work in the same organization. Their professional roles, seniority, and departments are just variables to a complicated relationship that seems to work out only on TV shows like the one described above.
But office romances are here to stay given the inordinate amount of waking time that we spend at work. These hectic work schedules do not leave time to socialize outside of work and meet other singles with whom we can connect and build relationships.
Image source: Shutterstock
An office romance can be a discreet affair that hardly anyone finds out, or it could be a full-blown drama, giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘mixing business with pleasure.’ Here’s a look at various scenarios pertaining to office romances.
1. Peer – Peer Relationship
This is quite commonly seen, especially among rookies whose common fears and shared fear of bosses can quickly escalate. Unfortunately for them, this is also the least stable relationship, since most newbies are still exploring life and often also get transferred to different departments or teams.
2. Subordinate – Manager Relationship
This is probably the most complicated and dangerous office romance pair. History has numerous stories of affairs between bosses and their secretaries. This has probably got to do with the attraction for someone with a position of power.
3. Between People of the Same Department
Some companies have a strict policy of completely banning fraternization between all employees, while some implement this only within the confines of a single department. Though less messy than the scenarios mentioned above, it can still interfere with professionalism of the involved parties.
4. Between People of Different Departments
This is perhaps the safest of the lot, considering that there are very few instances where work and romance will overlap. Yet, it is not completely fool-proof, since there might be occasions where the two parties will have to work together, for example, a Software Engineer and her HR person, who also happens to be her boyfriend.
What could go wrong?
Image source: Shutterstock
Some people argue that it’s just a romance like any other, and a big deal needn’t be made out of it. But the truth is that when both parties are from the same workplace, it isn’t just a romance. There is a whole Pandora’s box of trouble waiting to erupt. Here are just a few potential problems with office romances:
- Peers have to compete with each other for a better appraisal and promotion, so this can quickly lead to the relationship souring. This can destroy the environment within the workplace for everyone else as well.
- A manager has an important role to play in the progression of his subordinates’ careers, so favoring one person over the rest is likely to lead to a mutiny.
- Romantic partners tend to overlook each others’ mistakes, especially in the initial stages of their affair. If these mistakes are professional ones, they can prove costly for the company in the long run.
- A workplace thrives with a certain level of professionalism, but too much public displays of affection between the couple would be uncomfortable for the other employees.
- Close proximity with one’s romantic partner for so many hours in a day can be distracting, affecting the quality of work, which will in turn bring into question their professional ethics.
- When things go bad, one or both partners might resign suddenly, leaving the department in the lurch.
- On the other extreme, after the relationship goes kaput, there will be lingering awkwardness and / or animosity which would seem all-pervasive and distracting to the others in the team.
- At any time, the relationship can go downhill, which can bring out the worst in some people. There have been several instances of jilted partners making claims of sexual harassment against former lovers. Serious allegations like these can end up destroying one’s career.
This isn’t to say that there has never been a successful office romance ever, but they are few and far between. Even while hiring, many companies ensure that if both the husband and wife are applying for jobs, they don’t get the same department. Steps like these ensure that the sanctity of workplace decorum is maintained and the company’s growth is not affected. So stay smart and stay employed!
Featured image source: Shutterstock