A Captivate Networks survey suggests 69 per cent of married men and 63 per cent of married women - and 55 per cent of singles - have had a relationship with a co-worker that is close enough to classify as "work-spouse."
These 'couples' spend much time together during working hours, after work hours, business trips and company dinners. They can also keep in touch after work hours by emails, texting or cell phones confirming or discussing business issues. They can spend more time with each other than they do at home. It's not unusual for the pair to share inside jokes, know each other's likes and dislikes, give holiday or birthday gifts, and know each other's coffee and food preferences.
It isn't difficult in subordinate reporting jobs for a support co-worker to develop a close relationship with their superior that can mirror a marriage. Many positions actually are enhanced by having a 'work spouse' who can provide emotional support during high pressure times. They can complement each other by sharing skills and similar approaches to their work functions.
The bonds made between the boss and work spouse is usually trustworthy and confidential and can carry over to their personal lives including family situations. Sometimes the work spouse knows more about the boss' private life and emotional make-up than his/her spouse or partner.
Work stress can be relieved by reviewing important employee matters together, receiving valuable feedback on problems or happenings in the office. Some of these relationships mirror the intimacies of marriage. Some are: shopping for gifts for family members, seeking advice on personal or family matters, performing favors such as picking up dry cleaning, driving each other to or from somewhere, and in some cases, becoming more involved emotionally than was expected.
Next: Part 2 -- How work spouses can adversely affect your workplace
Marie Coppola February 2011
Ref: Careerbuilder.com; CNN