There's nothing wrong with romance at work, and it's happening more and more.
It just makes sense: We're increasingly spending more time at out our jobs, and it's easy to be attracted to someone who shares workplace stresses and victories.
A recent study found that 76 percent of respondents were either aware of an office romance or had been involved in one themselves.
Of course, love at work is not without risk, which is why many people avoid it. But with the right management, romance and career can often coexist successfully. Here are some tips:
Know the policy.
Some companies have rules against relationships, depending on how closely you work together. If relationships are forbidden but you decide it's worth breaking the rules, be discreet and prepare for any consequences. And even if there's no formal policy, consider whether your organization's culture is accepting.
Weigh the pros and cons.
Before you get swept up in the moment, spend time thinking analytically about the potential effects on both careers. You may be in a situation where finding a life partner is more important than this particular job, or where you have enough flexibility to transfer elsewhere if things take an awkward turn. On the other hand, if you're on a stellar trajectory where you are, you may not want to risk it.
Have a plan.
Spend time talking with your potential partner, and maybe even make a written plan, about you'll handle the relationship and a possible breakup, so that the effects on your co-workers and organization are minimized.
Positively, no public displays of affection at work--no touching, no pet names, no lingering looks. Anyone who doesn't know you're together should never be able to guess it from your behavior. Maintaining proper distance shows respect for the professionalism of your workplace and minimizes gossip.
Don't draw attention to yourselves with long lunches or after-hours meetings. Keep your office door open when you're together, and share travel only if there's an iron-clad business-related need.
Keep your focus.
Don't let your personal life affect the quality of your work, and don't neglect other important workplace relationships that you need to maintain. Keep it professional and keep it private.
So, if you happen to find love at work, stay in balance, stay in focus, and stay appropriate. Active management may not sound romantic, but it's essential if you want to keep your career, and not just your love life, on track.