ALTHOUGH THE RISE of remote and hybrid work has brought huge changes to the workplace, one thing hasn’t changed – when people work together, workplace romances usually follow.
The Financial Post recently published a story that pointed out that, “Remote work hasn’t killed the office romance, but colleagues tempted to fall into each other’s arms might want to think twice about the consequences.”
“One in three employees say they’ve started an office romance while working remotely over the past three years, according to a survey of workers in the United States by ResumeBuilder.com. Of those, 23 percent say the relationship was with a co-worker. People also admit to sparking romances with clients, suppliers and investors.
Men are the lead instigators of such workplace pairings, with 45 percent saying they’ve initiated a relationship compared to 25 percent of women. What’s more, it’s the boss who’s most likely to make the first move. In relationships between co-workers, almost half are between managers and their direct reports, the survey found.”
“Office romances are a bad idea”
The Financial Times story quotes Kiljon Shukullari, an HR advisory manager at Peninsula Canada. He argues that companies might want to consider banning workplace romances altogether to avoid trouble — and the many workforce issues they sometimes cause.
He also advises drafting a strong co-worker relationship policy that all employees must sign off on. The thinking is that doing so protects a company from lawsuits if a romance “turns sour,” and it benefits workers, too.
That’s all well and good, but my experience is that there is not a ban or a company policy anywhere that can stop co-workers from getting romantically involved and doing what comes naturally.
I’ve covered this ground before, and once wrote a blog post for The Workforce Institute at Kronos where I made this point:
“I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Office romances are a bad idea. That’s because, in my experience, they go bad all too often. And spoiled office romances leave the participants – and the co-workers around them, who have to live with the bitter, sometimes litigious aftermath – much worse off as a result.”
I’m with the country singer Hank Williams Jr. on this one. He ‘s been known to sing that, “I’m for love; I’m all for happiness.”
Human nature will never change
I’m for all that too – as long as it doesn’t take place on the job.
The Financial Post agrees, and they add this:
“Policies and the potential risks of office romances aren’t likely to stop co-workers from pairing up completely. Time spent at work rivals that spent with family and friends, adding up to about 90,000 hours in a lifetime, according to some estimates. No wonder people develop feelings for each other at work.”
Yep, when you put it like that, it’s no wonder that so many office romances happen.
Remote work or not, human nature really doesn’t change. The proliferation of office romances — even in the age of remote work — is all the proof you need.