Photo: Daniel Goodman / Business Insider
If you’re like most people, there’s a 50/50 chance you’ve hooked up with a coworker.According to our survey of 1,500 Business Insider readers, 54% said they’ve had a “romantic encounter” with someone in the office.
“It’s kind of the natural evolution of the bond you’ve already made in the workplace,” says Stephanie Losee, co-author of Office Mate: Your Employee Handbook for Romance on the Job.
But before you venture into that territory, consider these 11 tips from Losee and a few other sources on how to manage hooking up with or dating someone in the office.
People often confuse solidarity -- say, against a mean boss -- with something more. It's a lot like what happens to battle-scarred comrades in wartime, says Losee.
Don't just talk about work together, and make sure you get out with people other than your colleagues. Shop talk can be a good way to build rapport, but it's definitely not enough to last you long-term.
Don't get too intense too quickly. Get to know the person you're interested in.
In an article, 'I Bedded My Boss: Stories Of Sex In The Workplace,' in the Examiner, one woman talked about giving into a coworker's advances after rebuffing a few times. She went out with him a couple times, and eventually slept with him.
How did it turn out? 'Huge mistake. After that I just wanted to forget it,' she told the Examiner.
While relationships can go south without much notice, you shouldn't see your career tank alongside it if you start off responsibly. Acknowledge that no relationship is guaranteed to last and discuss how you'll handle yourselves if this one ends. Know your game plan, reports Here Is The City.
'If (probably when) your relationship fails your personal stress test, have an exit strategy already in place -- an internal move, jumping ship to a rival, etc. In extreme cases, a tour of duty abroad might hold an appeal,' says Here Is The City's Dr. Love.
Maintain your regular office routines. That goes for email and phone use too, Losee adds.
Consider one engaged couple, says Cheryl Cran in 101 Ways to Make Generations X, Y and Zoomers Happy at Work, who publicly embarrassed each other in front of staff members.
'My suggestion was that they consider not working together in the company,' says Cran. Since one of them found another job, 'things have calmed down.'
When you're committed, make sure you're ready for the whole office to know, according to BNET.
And remember that once something's on Facebook, it's probably impossible to take it back, Losee says, which can get embarrassing.
You might not care that coworkers can see when you get together, but do you really want them to know when you go from 'In a Relationship' to 'Single'? Keep your enthusiasm about your relationship off the Internet.
Be prepared and own up to it when the time comes.
'If you are executing a high risk trade, and your boss finds out -- don't lie or offer to end it all, but have a risk management strategy in reserve. Think ahead about mitigating, minimising and managing all known risks,' says Here Is The City's Dr. Love.
Disclosing personal information with your boss may be daunting, but it's a necessary step.
The most senior of the two of you (or the person who's been there longer, if you're equals) should initiate the conversation, says Losee. Go into the conversation confidently. Be mature, and say what you need to say -- but definitely don't say too much, she says.
Stay professional inside the office. That includes keeping up your working relationships with other colleagues.
'Broadcasting the romance is a bad idea. Think about it -- would you want to see a couple canoodling in a cubicle?' asks Chandra Prasad in her book, Outwitting the Job Market: Everything You Need to Locate and Land a Great Position. 'If the two of you share projects, attend the same meetings, or otherwise interact during office hours, you'll want to be cautious about how you behave around one another.'
Be careful about superior-subordinate relationships (but if you're smart, these relationships are some of the most successful)
Twice as many marriages develop from superior-subordinate relationships than other pairings, Losee says, because they've calculated the risk and decided it's worth it.
TV spitfire Chelsea Handler told Piers Morgan she doesn't regret sleeping with her boss (Comcast Entertainment CEO Ted Harbet), even though it didn't work out between them.
'I don't think it really matters. If you are in love with somebody, and I was -- it had nothing to do with him being my boss,' she said. 'It's just how we came together. I mean, people are going to say whatever.'
If you need a little instant gratification, look beyond the cubicle next to yours, says Losee.
It might seem obvious that a one-night stand with a coworker is a bad idea, but after-work happy hours and good conversation have been known to influence bad judgment.
Do you really want to go to work every day feeling too embarrassed to make eye contact with the person sitting across from you at meetings? We bet not.
This one goes beyond rules for the office. The repercussions are not worth the risk.
Even so, in a Vault.com survey, 53% of office workers said they're aware of at least one married co-worker who's had an affair within the office.
'I worked for two Fortune 500 companies for years each, flying all over the country for meetings and events,' one survey participant told Vault. 'It was almost a common practice with many of the men in highly responsible leadership roles to be having side affairs with people they either met with on the road, or office people they met up with while travelling. Some affairs lasted a short time, others went on for years.'