Though it may be a cliché, an interoffice romance isn’t as big of a no-no as it used to be. In fact, some studies show that up to 50% of people have dated a co-worker before. It makes sense: you spend a lot of your time at work, which means meeting and getting to know someone in the office is easier than meeting and getting to know someone outside of the office. That said, before things escalate from a crush into something more, there are a few things you should consider before dating a co-worker so that you don’t sabotage your career.
1. Review workplace rules
First things first: check your copy of the office handbook to see if your workplace already has guidelines in place for dating a co-worker. If they do, adhere to them. But if they don’t, you and your partner should speak with HR and your direct managers to let them know you are together and assure them that your relationship will not affect your work output.
2. Always act like a professional
Though a workplace is, in effect, a social space, and though you may be very good friends with many of your co-workers, you and your partner should always act like professionals. Don’t let relationship squabbles spill over into your work – ever.
3. No PDA
Under no circumstances should you and your partner engage in any sort of PDA (aka public displays of affection) at the office. Your co-workers don’t want to see it and, honestly, it could make your fellow employees feel incredibly uncomfortable around the two of you. Something else to consider: if you’re in a traditional office environment, always keep the door open when you’re in your significant other’s office, just to keep any possible gossip at bay.
4. Keep your relationship off your work computer
It might seem fun to send a cheeky mid-day email to your boyfriend or girlfriend, but refrain from sending it to or from a work-provided email account or phone. There’s always a digital trail and you don’t want to be reprimanded – or worse, let go – for violating a corporate policy on the misuse of technology.
5. Have a mutual breakup contingency plan
No one in a relationship ever wants to think about a breakup, but when you work with your partner, the two of you do need to have a rational plan for how things will go at the office if the relationship sours.