Some 60% of UK workers are either unsure about or actively against office romances – deeming the logistical hurdles involved too risky, despite the potential for finding love. The figure comes from a survey commissioned by beverage firm Mars Drinks, which warns that budding affairs must be delicately managed to ensure that they are safely integrated with the workplace and unlikely to disrupt the normal flow of business.
‘If feelings do develop and the relationship is becoming difficult to hide,’ warns the firm, ‘quietly mention it to a small handful of trusted colleagues and gauge their reaction. If you can gain their support or approval it will be easier to divulge the secret, starting with the boss of whichever of you is the highest ranking, before telling the wider team.’
Challenges to office romances can emerge from three main sources:
- Bosses worrying that the relationship will lead to less effective work performance on each side;
- Colleagues’ disdain for preferential treatment, especially if the relationship is effectively a branch of office hierarchy; or
- Pressure for one partner to “bad mouth” the other as a means of playing down the threat of preferential treatment – something that could backfire if misconstrued or circulated in gossip.
So, what about the kind of corporate communications that may lead to sudden sparks of romance… the kisses and emoticons that are becoming part and parcel of a looser, less starchy way of getting the message across? The survey revealed that, while only 54% of UK workers think that an ‘x’ at the end of an email is acceptable, the figure is far higher among what you would normally consider a more scrupulous group of professionals: lawyers. For a surprising two thirds (66%), a sign-off ‘x’ is okay either some or all of the time. And 71% believe that it’s fine to add a smiley face or emoticon.
When it comes to non-text methods of communication, only 16% of UK workers prefer picking up the phone to emailing. The legal world, though, is far more gregarious, with 46% of lawyers preferring to actually stretch their legs and chat with their office pals.
Mars Drinks trade marketing manager Jenni Morgan said: “Who doesn’t love a good natter in the office? While emails, phone calls and even social media are certainly common ways for people to communicate with each other in the office, it’s encouraging to see that staff are taking time to step away from their desks and engage with their colleagues in a more personal way. Not only is this great for nurturing working relationships, it can also help make us more productive and create a much more positive and happy office environment.”
She added: “The office environment has really changed over the past decade and it is always interesting to see how those changes affect staff. It is great to discover that many workers are having more fun than ever before, and one imagines this is linked to the fact that offices have generally become less formal, which is a welcome development.”
Workers may be sceptical of office love – but at least they’re still making friends.
What do you think about office flings?
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