The Do's and Dont's of Office Romance

More than 60 percent of relationships now blossom in the workplace, according to a new survey.

Long hours and an increased number of female workers have led to flirting, flings and fledgling romances between colleagues, New Woman magazine claims.

As well as clocking into work, employees are putting in the hours practicing their romancing skills, with 94 percent of women admitting to flirting in the office and more than half confessing they had ended up in bed with a colleague.

Lisa Helmanis, author of "Master Dating," explains why work often works out in the romance stakes: "The way that we live now, we are meant to discern everything about a possible partner in less than five minutes in a crowded bar and decide if they are a love match.

"Work takes you back to a place where not every exchange is loaded with pressure and an attraction can slowly build.

"There's nothing more exciting than when you finally confirm the fact that both of you seem to be making 15 coffees a day at exactly the same time, for exactly the same reason."

So relations have been heating up at the water cooler and flirtation is common at the photocopier.

If you don't want to risk becoming the butt of jokes among the post-work pub posse, it's important to ensure both parties are definitely involved, and unattached.

Kate Taylor, relationship expert for and author of "Not Tonight, Mr Right," identifies the key signs that a colleague is keen on you.

"They will always try to move things out of the office into another location," she says. "The office is designated a 'work' environment, so things will not progress there. Your keen colleague will try to move things to a 'neutral' location like a coffee shop, or a more romantic location like a restaurant.

"If they are always saying stuff like, 'Let's discuss this over lunch' or 'It's so late, shall we stop working now and grab some dinner?' they are keen on you."

But think long and hard about any decision to pounce, or your potential love promotion could turn into a down-in-the-dumps demotion.

"Love in the office is such a distraction, you have to be incredibly sure before you begin flirting that this is going to go somewhere," Taylor warns.

Romance Checklist

Still not sure whether to start sending sickly sweet emails to a colleague or dare to enter the office dating game? Taylor lists the potential pitfalls to consider.

"You can both see each other all day every day," Taylor explains. "At first this sounds like heaven but soon it becomes a drag if he/she is constantly asking, 'Why did you leave work all spruced up last night?' or, 'Where are you going?'

"Even if you are not distracted, your boss will assume you are distracted and will watch you more closely for errors in your work and/or day-dreaminess," Taylor warns.

"We are all programmed to take an interest in interpersonal relationships, especially at work, so your budding romance will soon become the work soap opera," Taylor says.

"You will be gossiped about. Your romance may well blow your image of a hard-headed business type. In meetings, everyone will be staring at you wondering, 'Did Tony in accounts give you that lovebite?'"

Your Reputation

"You can't date more than two colleagues from work without being labeled as a bit on the easy side, so be very sure that you really like someone you're going to snog," Taylor advises. "You are allowed one 'fling', like an office Christmas party [one night stand], and one long-term relationship, but that's your lot. Otherwise you risk being branded the office leech (male) or ballbreaker (female)."

If you've decided that one of your colleagues is worth some serious overtime on the romance front, conduct yourself accordingly.

"It is worth finding out if your employer has a policy on workplace dalliances," Helmanis says.

"Some places do, so bear that in mind. Misbehave and you could find yourself hauled up in front of human resources and hot under the collar for all the wrong reasons."

Try following Helmanis' tips to make your office romance work for you:

Do's and Dont's

  • Don't cover the object of your affection's computer screen in love notes, or even think about e-mailing pictures of yourself naked.
  • Don't use group discussions to bring up personal issues.
  • Don't tell his or her assistant how they failed to call when they said they would or go Nancy Drew and try to sneak a look in their desk calendar.
  • Do keep your professionalism in tact. Most of us need time out from our most intense personal relationships, so try to be even more professional around them at work than normal.
  • Don't flaunt your relationship. Office romances can push a lot of other people's buttons. Ride it out and keep a low profile as a couple until the gossips have tired of it.
  • Don't let romance get in the way of work. And if your office romance hits the skids, reverting from lovers to colleagues can be a full-time job in itself. Throw yourself into your job and remember the real reason why you go to work.
"The best way to think about an office romance is in business terms," Helmanis recommends.

"As well as being a fertile breeding ground for crushes, this is also the place where you make the magic beans that pay the bills. Make sure that if you lose one, you don't lose the other."


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