This week, love is in the air and, in the world of entrepreneurship, it also affects people like us. Let’s be honest, maybe you’ve been eyeing that cute co-worker across from you in the office. Or perhaps you hit it off with a colleague during a company-wide happy hour and aren’t sure what to do next.
If this applies to you, you’ll want to keep reading. As someone who has done the office romance many times -- successfully and not so much -- and is married to someone in the same industry as me, there are important things to know before taking the plunge and have a successful office romance. And the benefits can be truly rewarding. Here are three important things you should keep in mind.
1. A decision on transparency has to be made.
If you decide to date, you can choose to make sure everyone you work with knows, or don’t tell a soul at the workplace. This is ideal for those who are just starting to date, in case things don’t pan out well. But whatever the case may be, when this decision is made, it’ll affect how the relationship starts, develops and, if things don’t work out, ends.
2. Understand the risks if things don't go well.
Remember, these types of relationships are extremely fragile and can affect the other relationships around you in the workplace. If things go terribly wrong, you can’t treat it like a gym and find a new one to avoid the person. This is your job and if it’s negatively affecting it, it’s more likely that you or your partner will be replaced than repositioned.
If there’s conflict -- it’s a relationship, conflict is bound to happen -- emotions will flare, word will get around the company and you’ll immediately be put under a microscope to make sure your job performance isn’t being affected. So the key here is, whether you’re just going on dates or in a more serious relationship, do whatever it takes to ensure it doesn’t affect your work.
3. The best relationships happen outside your department.
Even though you might enjoy working closely with the person you’re dating or want to date, that doesn’t typically make for a amorous relationship. Co-workers who directly report to one another have a less likely chance of surviving a romance. When you’re around someone like that, the line between work and play gets blurry. More importantly, decision-making becomes complicated when someone you care about is involved.
According to a survey done by Society for Human Resource Management, in 53 percent of relationships acknowledged (most don’t admit to having an office affair), both employees were in different departments. Plus, with individuals working in different departments, there are more levels of discretion that can be controlled, since you’ll likely not share the same office friends and won’t see each other so much throughout the day.
In order for any relationship, let alone an office romance, to stand the tests of time, a high level of communication needs to be established. Set the proper expectations going into things and be sure to maintain them throughout the relationship. Studies have shown those who were happily dating a co-worker saw a significant boost in productivity, job performance and overall satisfaction. The juice may very well be worth the squeeze.