From Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly in The Office to Olivia Pope and President Fitzgerald Grant in Scandal, a lot of us have a romanticized idea of workplace relationships. Of course reality is much more complex. While the office can provide a tempting dating opportunity, it can also be a minefield of explosive complications. There aren’t hard and fast rules, but here are some things to keep in mind if you are considering jumping into the office dating pool:
Know the formal policy
Companies often times have a handbook for office behavior, and if yours does, check to see if there is a policy about interoffice relationships. Even if they don’t, try to find out how management feels about them so you know it will be perceived if your relationship becomes public.
Avoid dating your boss or direct reports
Even if your company permits interoffice dating, chances are they frown on a boss having a relationship with a direct report. For one, it can have legal or HR ramifications down the line.
Be aware of sexual harassment policies
You don’t want to give someone the ammunition to accuse you of sexual harassment when the real nature of your relationship is consensual. That’s why office behavior is critical to the success of any work relationship.
Read the room
This is mostly common sense, but stay professional. So, no holding hands or any form of pda in the office. No flirting, no bickering or anything that can make co-workers uncomfortable. You want to have an idea of how your co-workers will react, knowing how pervasive office gossip is. If needed, let your boss or HR know about your relationship.
Stick to your professional goals
Don’t change who you are or alter your attire just because you’re dating a co-worker. Ideally, you’ll still go to lunch or hang out with fellow staffers, and not just your partner.
Separate work and personal life
If you’re dating a co-worker, establish boundaries. To maintain a healthy relationship, try not to discuss work while at home or after hours.