Is it advisable to date a coworker? Despite a lot of popular beliefs, relationships do form at work quite often. The reason being you are trapped in a work setting for six, sometimes even ten hours with the same person on a regular basis. Friendships can be formed and romantic sparks can even fly over a simple coffee at lunchtime.

Often times, coworker relationships start off very innocently, one day you look at each other just a little differently—and then the dating starts. Pretty soon you have to make that decision of how you both want to handle the situation, maturely and professionally. You do not want to jeopardise either of your career paths or the potential relationship.

 

This is when open communication is a must. You have to be able to talk to your partner openly and honestly when you are dating a coworker because you now have a dual relationship. You're going to be spending your personal and private time with this person, and then in a professional setting. There's definitely advantages and disadvantages of working with someone you are also romantically involved with.

 

The pros 

It can be exciting, it can be fun, and you're guaranteed to see that person on a regular basis. You'll be able to make plans to meet, whether it's right after work or right before work, or perhaps you can even carpool and find lots of other ways to enjoy each others company.

 

The cons

However, some of the disadvantages of dating a colleague can include: if one, or both of you decide the relationship is not for you, you still have to work together and then Monday morning you're going to be sitting right next to that person again. This could cause a lot of drama for you and your partner. Gossiping and rumours are often started about what you two are doing outside of the office.

 

Most importantly, remember that certain offices do have policies against dating and fraternising with employees outside of the workplace. So, if you do decide to date someone from your office, make sure you're on the up-and-up and you're able to maturely and understandably handle the relationship.

 

Recent figures show that 47% of people have dated someone from their workplace. And the reasons are easy to understand. Where else are you going to find someone with a similar education and income level as yours? But there is a right and wrong way to make it happen. Here are some tips to help your blossoming romance get started without the potential of an office drama.

 

Take it outside

Try to have your liaisons away from the office and work-related events. The Christmas party, for example, is not the best time to display open affection for each other. Rather, arrange to meet for a quiet drink after work or pop out for the occasional working lunch.

 

Develop a secret code

No one is supposed to say, 'I love you' at the office. If you want to avoid making your coworkers feel really uncomfortable, develop a code that only you and your partner understand. But don't go overboard and make things so complicated that it sounds like you're continuously talking nonsense.

 

Go public

While it's true that 70% of companies do not have a policy for dating in the office, it's very likely that the HR department where you work will have something to say about your new found happiness. Some companies even have what is called a 'Love Contract', a kind of prenup between you and your employer that specifies that if you and your partner fall out, you won't be able to blame the company and sue them for the failure of your relationship.

 

End it with dignity

Unfortunately, most intimate relationships that start in the workplace also end there. The best thing to do when your office romance ends is to not let it end badly and at the very least, not in front of your colleagues or even your boss.

 

But is it right?

Whether or not an office romance is ethically the right thing to do is a question as old as offices themselves. Ethicist and author, Dr Bruce Weinstein, is known on CNN television as the 'Ethics Guy' and in his opinion, an office romance has a lot of potential for harm.

 

Dr Weinstein explains that it's inevitable colleague-couples will bring their relationship problems to work with them, and this violates the most ethical principle of all; do no harm. But in an office romance, you and your romantic partner can be harmed by the relationship, especially when it fizzles out. It can also have an adverse impact on morale in the office, affect your productivity and endanger your relationship with your employer.

 

One thing is certain, if a romantic relationship with a coworker leads to matrimonial bliss or not, it needs to be handled very carefully, especially when the romance occurs between workers at different levels in the company, or when it's possible for one to directly influence the career, compensation or opportunities for advancement of the other, the perception of favouritism can raise its ugly head.

 

Potential damage

Another pitfall is the potential to damage the credibility and reputation of the company or the department, as well as both the individuals involved. They might be seen as mixing business with pleasure and this could give the impression of being less professional. It might also be perceived as a blatant attempt to better their position within the company.

 

Love happens

That said, we all like the idea of two people meeting, falling in love and then going on to hold a steady relationship for many years to come. And if that first tingling makes itself known in an office environment, then there's not much we can do about it. Sometimes, love just happens. It's how we deal with it that defines its success or failure. And as the great William Shakespeare wrote in A Midsummer Night's Dream, 'The course of true love never did run smooth...'