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Today's Workplace

Office Romances: Are They Working?

By Stevie Sobieski

We all gasped in horror when Phyllis walked in on Dwight and Angela in flagrante delicto during the season four finale of The Office.

But, are office romances really all that shocking? According to a 2003 survey by the American Management Association (AMA), the answer is no. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they approved of interoffice dating.

It is easy to understand why office romances develop. Familiarity breeds attraction, be it romantic or otherwise. You have got similarity in at least one arena; you work at the same place. Physical propinquity is high. With all these factors at play, it is no surprise that thirty percent of respondents to the AMA survey said they had dated someone they worked with.

There are upsides to having a relationship with a co-worker. Having a fling with a colleague makes the office a happier place. Employees that are satisfied in their jobs are more productive and tend to have lower turnover rates. According to a CareerBuilder.com survey, roughly 12% of relationships that start at work end with a trip down the aisle.

When it comes to workplace romance, the old adage rings true: all that is done in darkness will come to light. Many companies do not have specific policies relating to the treatment of interoffice relationships; however, there may be some negative consequences.

The majority of office romances do not grow into long-term relationships. If breakups are less than friendly, this may lead to discomfort if both parties remain in their current positions. A less-than-amiable split could even lead one party to call sexual harassment on the other. If the boss is dating a subordinate or vice versa, other employees may call favoritism. At worst, you and/or your partner may face termination.

The prospect of a new relationship is always thrilling. If you’re thinking of pursuing a romantic entanglement with a co-worker, here are some tips:

· Keep it professional while at work. The only PDA in your office should be your Blackberry.
· Know the rules. If you could be fired for dating a colleague, you do not want to learn this one the hard way.
· Keep it quiet. Although the relationship will most likely become public knowledge at some point, it need not be the hot topic in office gossip.


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