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Ah, love. Love is all you need. Love, Love, Love. Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Love makes the world go round. Love is a Battlefield. Love in An Elevator. Okay, I’m losing the plot now. But the point is, most people want to find love. Wars have been won and lost over it, countless films and songs and have been written on the topic, and let’s face it Adele’s whole career! So, what happens if you find love in the workplace? Think you’ve found the Jim Halpert to your Pam Beasley or the Lois Lane to your Clarke Kent? What’s the best way to manage things so you don’t lose the respect of your colleagues and possibly your job in the long run?

The first thing to say is just NO! Really? Does it need to be clearer? Relationships and work should not mix. There’s countless reasons why it just isn’t a good idea. Depending on the position in the company, one of you could be on the receiving end of a sexual harassment grievance, especially if things go sour. Superior’s having relationships with subordinates opens up all sorts of issues within the team. The team will always feel you give your significant other special priority over everything, from what hours they work to what days they have off and even pay rises. If your bosses find out, it could mean you lose your job.

Some workplaces are starting to understand the implications of workplace romances a little better and for that reason may state that office romances are strictly off limits. So by pursuing it, one or both of you need to reconsider your career goals. Other workplaces may state you need to disclose your relationship so the company can be certain that there is no special treatment between the 2 employees involved and if one if you is in a superior position, then you can’t influence things like hours and pay rises.

Some workplaces though, don’t have these boundaries. So, if you find yourself in a situation where you are starting something with a colleague, how can you manage the work life balance without leaving everyone angry around you?

Again, I’ll say it – just NO! Just don’t. But you don’t want to hear that, so I’ll try a different route.

Be very certain before you make that move towards an office relationship. Spending a lot of time together at work can be confusing. It may seem like you’re bonding over a hatred of the latest project, your boss or any number of different things. But bonding over something and being in love are two completely different things. What you are contemplating could have very serious ramifications for both of you and the wider team you work with. Think about it very carefully BEFORE taking that step.

Remember – you’re adults! Starting a new relationship, even with someone you have known for a long time can be exciting. But you’re not teenagers. You’re at work – where you need to keep things professional. Your colleagues don’t want to watch you fawn over each other, giggling to each other over your lunches and holding hands around the office. In the office, you need to pretend that nothing is going on between you. Keep the lingering looks and giggling for the journey home.

Keep your distance. Don’t sit together in meetings, or always take lunch together. If one of you is sharing a new idea, be prepared for colleagues to think you are only agreeing with it because you’re sleeping together. Some of your colleagues will be looking for any kind of bias between you and may try and exploit that with the higher ups.

Make sure your work doesn’t slip. Be careful about the quality of your work. Again, any potential slip ups could be fuel for someone to complain to the bosses. You need to make sure you are still pulling your weight. If it’s usual for people to stay late and you used to help out, don’t suddenly stop doing it because you have other things to do. You will end up creating barriers with your colleagues and undo any good will you had with them prior to your new budding romance.

Keep the home stuff at home. Angry because your new beau didn’t do the dishes last night like they promised? Or fed up you have to see the in laws AGAIN this weekend? Keep it out of the workplace. Your colleagues don’t want to hear the intricacies of your relationship and they certainly don’t want to get dragged in. ‘But they always used to listen to me moan about my boyfriend before’ you cry. Yes, but your boyfriend didn’t work at the next desk then. They may have grumbled about their partners before too, but now your partner is one of them, don’t damage your or your partners standing with the team by bad mouthing them over domestic issues at work. No one wants to know.

Develop a thick skin. You’re going to be the target of some unhappy people’s opinions in the workplace and they will be talking about you behind your back. Whether you think they have the right to comment or not, office romances seem to bring everyone out with an opinion. If you’re going to do this and survive it, don’t go running to the boss every five minutes because someone made a sarcastic remark about you being a little late to the office this morning. People will talk. It doesn’t make it right, but you need to consider how you will handle this in the office environment without being the one who is not only sleeping with colleagues but running to the boss over snarky comments every day.

Plan for the worst. It may seem a pessimistic thing to say, but you need to discuss what will happen if you break up. How will you handle it at work? Messy breakups are the worst, but if you have to see that person every day in the office, how’s that going to work? Being able to discuss how to handle your exit strategy means you can avoid some of the nastiness that may come with a breakup. And remember, your colleagues don’t want to get drawn into your squabbles. Keep it at home and don’t fight at work.

So, what’s this got to do with The Wage Shop?

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