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Love at the Office: Size Definitely Matters

Article May 1, 2018  |  Text by Lucie Kolomá Text by Lucie Kolomá

How often does spark, perhaps small, set off at the office? How many love affairs begin in a working team? And what (dis)advantages do such relationships have for everyone involved?

Last year, the agency STEM/MARK released some interesting results from a survey on people’s intimate relationships at the workplace. A full 94% of Czechs admitted that they sometimes flirt at their workplace. Out of these, 40% of the men and 27% of the women didn’t stop at flirting—they have had at least one experience with an intimate relationship at work.

So on average every third employee has transitioned their work friendship with one of their workmates to a more horizontal position. And we have to add that 17% of these relationships concerned persons that had already given their marital promise to someone else.

That statistic certainly changes your view of workmates in an open-space office, doesn’t it?

Does a relationship with the boss pay off?

About 80% of workplace relationships are between people at the same level of the company pyramid. The remaining fifth can “look forward” to the shaky situations that encounter every lover who’s found their love in a boss or a subordinate.

“This kind of relationship will always be viewed by other team members as one that’s favoring somebody,” warns psychologist Alexandra Hrouzková from the My Life Studio consulting center. The STEM/MARK studies confirm this view, as they show that nearly 30% of those who have gotten involved with their boss admitted that the relationship brought them various advantages.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

“Employees who date their superiors are perceived by their workmates as less trustworthy than those who have a relationship with their equals. Also, these employees admitted that they themselves would have less trust for a workmate who was dating their superior,” adds Sean M. Horan from Texas State University.

The Question of Size

The size of the company where the lovers in question are working has a large influence on the consequences of a romance that begins at work. In a large corporation where your object of desire can be hidden away in another department, the whole course of the relationship is easier.

In the opposite, somewhat more complicated case, where you’re working at the same office or even on the same project, you can expect a lot of time spent together as well as many tribulations, professional disagreements that will work their way into personal life, jokes by your teammates, and cabin fever.

Both experts and employers recommend not waiting for problems to come to a head, and instead resolving the situation as soon as possible. The best solution may be for one person in the pair to leave the company.

Love Is Unstoppable

It’s interesting that according to professor Horan’s research, 2 out of 5 people surveyed do not know if their company has any regulations governing workplace relationships.

Most companies today actually don’t do anything about workplace relationships. In fact, here in the Czech Republic it’s illegal to regulate relationships, or to outright ban them, via company rules. But it’s entirely legal for your workmates to look down their noses at you for a relationship with your boss.

Many experts agree that even though love itself is a positive thing, certain unresolved relationships could bog down a workplace’s atmosphere and bring unpleasant moments to come. Especially in tightly knit collectives, unpleasant situations can occur not only for the couple in love, but also for everyone involved.

After all, let’s be honest—no matter how much we’re on someone’s side, we’re not always in the mood to look at them kissing at the next table over. And we’re even less interested in lovers’ quarrels during meetings.