The truth about... Office Romances

As you gaze, pie-eyed at the nimble-fingered boy from the post room or feel waves of unbounded desire for Howard in Facilities as he lets himself down on the dancefloor, beware the dalliance of the office party...

The truth about... Office Romances

What are the chances?

When a work mate becomes a playmate - and you're up for making it a regular event, what are the chances of you making it work in the hotbed of office gossip and politics?

According to RP Cushing Recruitment, a fifth of office workers have had a fling at work. Given that we spend an average of 44 hours a week earning a living, it's hardly surprising that close working relationships can so easily shift up a gear. But be prudent. An enormous snog fest in the toilets could put more at risk than your concentration...

The perils and pitfalls

The trouble starts when your expectations are different. If you're just getting off on the excitement of passionate encounters in the stock room and he's dreamt of you as his future wife and mother of his children, it's not going to work.

Could you put up with seeing his annoying face every day over your in-tray or keep it together if he leaves you devastated? Could you even give up your job if working together became too difficult?

There's also a chance that your colleagues won't like it, particularly if the guy you're dating is more senior or even your boss. Aside from the predictable gossip, there may also be mutterings of favouritism, unprofessionalism and even jealousy.

Five top tips on getting it right

1. Proceed with caution

A significant number of employers set out policies to deal with love affairs between their employees. Find out what the deal is in your company - ideally before embarking on a passionate fling. And if the object of desire is your boss, think long and hard about whether it’s really what you want. However, if you’re already in the throes of Big Love, then your most important consideration is damage limitation…

2. Make sure he's worth the risk

If you feel you and he have the potential to be more than a fling over the photocopier, proceed with caution. Is he worth it? It may appear negative to contemplate the end of an affair when it’s only just begun, but talk about what would happen if you split up. Would it compromise your working relationship, particularly if one of you has to appraise the other?

3. Avoid acting like a teenager

Discretion is everything. This means don’t sit holding hands in the canteen, steer clear of company email if you’re sending each other filth, don’t sneak off repeatedly to talk to each other or snog and certainly don’t discuss the lurid details of your sex life with people you work with! And as much as he may be, in your eyes, the best thing to happen to the company in its entire history, you should also be wary of playing favourites.

4. Consider 'fessing up

There’s nothing like an office romance to get the drums beating… Unless you are stuck on complete denial, it’s best to just be honest. End gossip and speculation by confirming the relationship and say no more about it.

5. Set some work / love-life boundaries

However, it’s a good idea to set the boundaries between business and pleasure. Do you really want to talk shop with your partner once you’ve left the office? It’s also important to ensure that work is not all you have in common. Like any good relationship, if it’s to last, you both need to keep your own identities as well as creating opportunities to share quality time together doing other things, as far away from work as you can possibly make them!