Are you bitten by the love bug at work?
Romance in the workplace is laced with challenges. Here’s how you can keep calm, find love and still meet the deadline.
We spend at least half (if not more) of our waking hours at work. With so much time spent at one place and the heart doing what it wants to do, it’s not surprising that so many of us get attracted to and end up having relationships with office colleagues. But unlike our college romances or dating friends’ friends, workplace romances can be super complicated. So here are things you need to factor in before getting bitten by the love bug at work.
They’re lurking in the shadows, tracing your moves, eavesdropping on conversations to feed the office grapevine. Office romances bring with them a lot of gossip. If you’re not careful, stuff like “He’s sifting through all the girls in the department one by one”, “No wonder she’s coming in late every day” or “Did you know they were alone in that corner conference room for half an hour?” is going to do the rounds.
If you’re having a fling, there’s no need to tell anyone in office about it. Flings attract more gossip, so spill your heart to your work friends only when both of you are serious. Irrespective of whether your colleagues know or don’t, behave professionally with each other when in office and at office gatherings. Don’t give gossipmongers any ammunition to hurt your reputation.
ADHERE TO POLICIES
Does your company have a policy against workplace romance? Uh oh. You have two options – either stop seeing each other or keep it in under wraps. Most companies in India don’t discourage workplace romance and some even encourage it, doling out marriage gift certificates for those who decide to tie the knot. However, policies may state disclosure clauses, especially for employees in mid-to-senior management. So find out what your office policy is, and let HR know about your relationship if you’re required to disclose it.
MANAGE CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
When Pallavi joined her organisation two years ago, she didn’t know that she would fall in love with Arjun. A month of dating later, they decided to get engaged and that’s when the trouble started. Pallavi was working in Pune and wanted to move to Mumbai to be closer to Arjun. However, if she moved, he would have been her reporting manager and the organisation viewed this as a conflict of interest. After a lot of discussions with the management and some juggling of her role, Pallavi was given a different manager so that she could move cities and continue to work with the organisation.
Arjun and Pallavi’s story is not uncommon. When one half of the couple reports to the other, it creates a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest means that either one or both parties could benefit from prejudiced actions or decisions of the other. A woman, for instance, who is managing a team that includes her boyfriend could give him better projects, allow him to extend his deadlines, cover up for his mistakes or even give him a promotion that someone else deserves more. So that such favouritism for (or in some cases, against) an individual does not happen, organisations prefer not to have employees report to managers they are in a relationship with.
KEEP IT PROFESSIONAL
Can’t keep your hands off each other? It’s hard, we know. But control yourselves in office, will you please. Public displays of affection in office serves as a major distraction for other colleagues. If you think that nobody’s going to find out, think again. It could be the dishevelled clothes, leaving for the copy room within two minutes of each other, a wink or a seductive smile can reveal more than you’d like to share. Never use office mail or chat to send lovey-dovey messages or private photographs. Office communi cation is the property of your organisation and your admin has access to it. But there’s more to being professional than just that. Sneha Singh Sheikh, who met her husband at her workplace and dated for over three years before they got married, reminisces, “We worked at a BPO, with different shifts and different holidays. But we never asked the scheduling team to change the roster for us. We did not even time our daily work breaks together. We were both high performers and managers appreciated the professionalism,” she says.
PICK UP AFTER A BREAKUP
This is by far the worst problem. What happens when the relationship between an office couple loses steam and they break up? Uncoupling can affect your confidence and productivity at work, and even cause discomfort to other team members.
After a year-long relationship, Tanya and Shrini broke up because of pressure from Shrini’s parents, who wanted him to marry within their caste. With him about to get mar ried within a few months, Tanya had to maintain her composure while he invited others for all the wedding functions, bought lunch for the team and got his fiance to meet everyone in office.
When one partner moves on, the other has got to chin up and swallow his or her pride. Keep conversations to a minimum and don’t enquire about your ex’s personal life. Badmouthing your ex is also a bad idea as your colleagues will judge you for what you say. Also, don’t immediately start flirting with someone else. You may be tempted to do a lot of things just to spite your ex, but it will only come back to bite you in the back. Focus on your work, try to learn a new work-related skill and convert this into a positive outcome for you.