Opinions: Should workplace romance be frowned upon in the modern office?

Stop frowning on office romances

Workplaces are shooting themselves in the foot by banning relationships

Benjamin Jacobs // Contributor

Romantic relationships in the workplace have long been frowned upon. However, that doesn’t keep employees from dating each other. According to Forbes, four out of 10 workers have dated their colleagues, and 17 per cent of those who partake in office romances have done so several times. Office romance has become all too common to still be considered taboo. As Jim and Pam proved in The Office, as long as a couple maintains boundaries between intimacy and professionalism, everything should be fine.

A survey by The Guardian argues that workspaces create long term goals for employees to bond over and Forbes also states it is the perfect place to meet someone because there is a sense of familiarity and commonality.

This rule that some companies have, dictating that employees are not allowed to date each other, is a violation of their privacy. After all, a romantic relationship is a huge part of someone’s personal life, and having your employer control who you can and can’t go out with is overbearing and crosses a line. Jennifer Corbett of STLawyers argued on the practice’s blog that some employees have actually left their companies because of no-dating policies, effectively choosing love over their career. So, if a business has this “no dating colleagues” rule, then the company might have a higher chance of losing their best employees.

Workspaces are an easy place to find a significant other, especially if two people work in the same department. They have to interact with each other nearly every day, so, it would not be surprising if they use their breaks to socialize and familiarize with one another.

Dating in the workplace may have its flaws, but it’s not the worst thing that can happen to a company. If anything, companies should be more invested in ensuring that romances that blossom in the office are healthy. While it is fair to be cautious of how personal business can intervene with professional business, companies should at least look into establishing boundaries first, before outright banning dating in the office.

Keep your relationship out of the office

The work environment isn’t the place for your romance

Ana Frazão // Contributor

The Vault’s survey of 2017 showed that 57 per cent of the respondents have had an office romance, so it makes sense that many workplaces have strict dating policies. It can be a serious problem. “I dated a manager when I worked retail in college, and my co-workers hated me because I got to work weekdays, getting weekends and nights off. I also dated a subordinate, and had to fire him while we were dating, at the orders of my boss,” one respondent to the survey commented. Ouch.

If two colleagues are in a relationship where one person is the other’s subordinate, it can become really complicated with coworkers implying that any bonus, good review or promotion is biased. No one wants to hear from a co-worker, “You only like so and so’s idea because you’re dating them!” On the other hand, if the relationship ends badly, the subordinate could file a complaint of harassment or the supervisor could write a poor review. Whatever happens, employees will have to deal with all of the painful drama that comes with that. Either way, it can get messy and uncomfortable.

The work environment can become tense, leaving people confused or uncomfortable and often wondering how to behave around the couple. If the couple isn’t discrete either, it can be awkward to see two desk neighbours showing affection to each other.

Most of the respondents to The Vault’s survey believe that romance in the office is not a good idea. 32 per cent said that it’s not alright to have a relationship with coworkers at different levels, while 27 per cent said not to date someone in the same department, 21 per cent refuse romances with clients and five per cent declare that it’s just completely unacceptable. Therefore, 85 per cent of respondents found it problematic to have an office romance.

Some companies may require employees to sign a contract to prevent the company from being liable for harassment complaints, especially since employers can be included in lawsuits according to an amendment of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act of 2016.

Employees who decide to pursue a deeper relationship with their colleagues have to be prepared for the consequences. Your job is to decide whether the stress, awkwardness and potential fallout is worth the butterflies in your stomach.

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