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Dating a co-worker? How to navigate a potential minefield

According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder nearly 40 per cent of employees claim to have had a relationship with a colleague

While in some workplaces relationships between colleagues are frowned upon, there’s no denying that they’re pretty common. Here are some essential ways in which to avoid the pitfalls, leaving you to enjoy a perfect relationship and keep your job.

Respect the rules

It is crucial to know your company’s rules about dating within the office before you embark on a new relationship. If you don’t want to ask HR and get tongues wagging before it’s official, you should be able to access HR policies via the staff handbook or the corporate intranet. However, you needn’t be nervous about informing your employer early on about your relationship. Being open and honest with the management team will show that you’re taking their rules seriously.

Stay focused on work

The first weeks of new love can be intoxicating, but it’s crucial that you don’t let your relationship affect your work. Whilst many of your colleagues will be happy for you, swanning around in a happy daze and not doing very much else could affect your reputation, as well as that of your new partner.

Lynn Taylor, author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job,” suggests that it’s best to act as if you are not dating your colleague, and instead treat them as you would treat any other co-worker. Even emails to your partner should be professional and work-centred.

Keep it colleague-friendly

Office relationships in their early stages can be the stuff of cheesy romance novels: longing looks over the photocopier, stolen kisses in the break room. If you want others to respect your new relationship and your work, stop the PDAs completely. It might seem drastic, but your colleagues have not come to work to witness a live soap opera. Flirting is distracting for everyone and should be kept to personal hours. Equally, when you feel urge to vent about a lover’s tiff, think again.

Don’t rush

As with all relationships inside and outside the office, it’s best to take your time. Office break-ups can be excruciating for everyone involved and often end with at least one member of the couple leaving the workplace. If there’s a real connection there, a little time spent getting to know each other won’t hurt, and could save you a whole lot of awkwardness.

Taylor advises interested parties to make sure they know their prospective partner as well as possible before starting a relationship. Personalities can vary so much between work and play, so it’s worth making sure you like both sides before committing.

With so many of our waking hours spent at work, it’s little wonder that for so many of us it’s the place in which we meet “the one.” Office relationships can be a great thing, and can work perfectly if handled appropriately. Take your time, minimise the PDAs and keep communicating with HR, and you have a recipe for a wonderful office romance.

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