Workplace Relationships

“Leave your problems at the door.”

While the essence of that statement is understood it is seldom appreciated as ‘adulting’ doesn’t come with an on and off switch, or an 8 – 5 schedule.  Instead, successful campaigners are those with sufficient emotional intelligence to strike a balance and manage their feelings.  It does become a tad more difficult if that ‘problem’ is in the cubicle next door, is required to submit the weekly departmental report for your presentation to the senior management team and also has your house keys and doubles as your car pool buddy. 

While for years office relationships have been scoffed on, an equal number of years have cemented the proximity principle. Simply put, being close to someone consistently can lead to attraction and endearment.  So what do we do if our minds and bodies seem hardwired to undermine us? 

Across several studies millennials seemingly express a greater willingness relative to their more senior counterparts to engage in an in office romance.  Whether reflective of the ever increasing blurred lines between home and work life and a more liberal approach overall, it is not surprising that more companies are assuming a policy position on fraternization in the workplace.  Equally married to that must be a willingness to confront those parties who fail to satisfy company expectations.  Unsurprisingly, many may choose to divorce themselves from such delicate conversations.

Another consideration is where these relationships bloom.  Is it at the water cooler, the 10 o’clock bread man or the annual Christmas party?  Quite possibly, a whispered joke down behind de truck in a company sponsored band might be the sweet wedding day story of some couples.

Ultimately companies must decide to what extent they are willing to allow a natural phenomenon interfere with a wider corporate culture and engagement.  Perception is always greater than reality and many might be hard-pressed to be convinced that missed promotional opportunities, disproportionately allocated work and inequitably meted out punishment was for reasons other than who butters whose bread on mornings.


By: Shane Howell BSc (Hons), MSc

Chief Operations Officer

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