As Valentine’s Day fast approaches, florists will be making visits to offices all over the country. That’s great for married folks, but it’s up for debate whether it’s appropriate for coworker couples. Depending on which study you read, anywhere from 39% to 59% of people (or, as many speculate, even more) have dated someone from their workplace at least once…and many of those relationships have resulted in marriage. But not every office romance leads to wedding bells—too many end with embarrassment, a lost job, or a demotion.
There is a ‘right’ way to nurture an office romance and I’ve asked several experts to lend their advice in this week’s series. First up is Michelle Barnum Smith, Personal Marketing Expert and THE dating coach for the frustrated single. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, and Expert Beacon. Take it away, Michelle:
A recent study published by the UK’s DailyMail says couples who meet at work are more likely to actually marry. Great news if you have your eye on someone you’re working with! But before you rush out and put the moves on them, check out these Five Do’s for dating a coworker in the workplace:
1. Do understand your motivations.
That DailyMail article discussed the likelihood of marrying a coworker and not just hooking up with them. Dating a coworker for a short-term, temporary fix is likely to cause the “D” word: DRAMA. You have to work with this person, after all is said and done, so if you’re just looking for a quick hook up, you will be better off finding that somewhere else.
2. Do choose your floor wisely.
Dating someone on your team is very different than dating someone in a separate department. I [Michelle] dated a guy at work once, but it was a 30,000-person organization and he was in sales while I was in marketing. Our paths rarely crossed professionally, so the separation between work and dating could still be maintained.
3. Do keep it between yourselves.
The office environment can be a hotbed of gossip and drama. Politics aren’t just for politicians; they can also be for the nosy neighbor a few cubicles down. If you don’t want your love life to show up in the next office newsletter, keep the flirting, dating, and—um—any mating, out of the office.
4. Do know your company’s policy.
No matter what anyone else says, when it comes to business, everything is personal, including flirting. So, if you’ve got your eye on someone, be cautious in your approach. The last thing you need is your boss and HR manager involved in your love life, so until you have confirmed that the feelings of interest are mutual, keep the aggressive flirting for the bar.
5. Do work at work.
When you like someone, you can’t stop thinking about them or wanting to talk to them, even while at work. You may think you can sneak off for a few unnoticed minutes for a quick chat, lunch, or “meeting” but others will take notice—including your boss. Nothing puts a damper on a good mood faster than losing your job from not actually doing your job. So, when you’re at work, put work first, love second.
Dating a coworker can be hazardous to your career’s health. However, if you keep yourself focused on being professional, keeping the relationship to yourself, and working while at work, there’s a good chance this relationship could go somewhere.
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About this Examiner: Kathryn Marion is the award-winning author of GRADS: TAKE CHARGE of Your First Year After College!, the most comprehensive resource for navigating the world of work and independent living after graduation, as well as host of the book’s companion resource site, www.GradsTakeCharge.com. The print edition of GRADS: TAKE CHARGE is available through Amazon and other online booksellers. The e-book edition is available through e-junkie.
Kathryn also coaches students, graduates, and career changers as well as consults with small businesses and aspiring authors.