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Lovers and Co-workers: Romance in the Workplace BAM 441 Elizabeth Klein February 12, 2013

LOVERS AND COWORKERS: ROMANCE IN THE WORKPLACE Introduction Two employees are hired at the same time in a mid-size organization. While completing their initial training together, the two forge a casual friendship based upon shared interests, similar hobbies, and, of course, proximity due to long work hours spent side by side. Months later, the friendship between the two coworkers has continued to grow, strengthen, and

transform. The two enjoy spending time with each other outside of work, and while at the office, are almost inseparable. Soon, colleagues, supervisors, and higher ups in the company begin to talk, and a swirl of gossip follows after every step the aforementioned friends take. Coworkers speculate that the bosom buddies have turned into lovers. Eventually, it is found out that the once platonic companions have now become a couple. Their bosses, although not surprised, are worried that neither of the persons in the pair will accomplish enough due to being swept up in the waves of romance, and fellow associates are concerned about the couple being excessively affectionate during inappropriate times in the workplace. Fortunately and rather surprisingly to these bosses and associates the romantic relationship does not impact either persons conduct or performance at work. In fact, both continue to flourish and even improve in their positions at the office. In short, dating in the workplace may be taboo, because it is assumed that the relationship will be detrimental to a professional atmosphere. However, couplings in the corporate world can be successful. Romantic relationships in the workplace are beneficial to an organization due to the increased work productivity, enhanced teamwork, happier workers, and innovative ideas that arise as a result. Prevalence of Romantic Relationships in the Workplace

LOVERS AND COWORKERS: ROMANCE IN THE WORKPLACE To begin, the prevalence of romantic relationships in the workplace cannot be denied. In 2011, Dixon, Friedrich, and OHair noted that according to research, two-thirds of the workers surveyed observed romantic relationships where they worked, and one-third of those surveyed claimed to have been involved in such a relationship (p. 200). It is likely that those who had been involved in a workplace romance had observed a similar situation prior to their own relationships, meaning viewing a coupling within the world of work had not deterred the pairs from pursing their own romance. As such, with dating in the workplace becoming so commonplace, it is wise to understand the benefits of these relationships. Instead of judging or being skeptical of coworkers who are romantically involved with another coworker, colleagues can instead realize that their partnership may in fact help the workplace, not harm it. To illustrate, one of the first profits apparent in romances in an organizational setting is increased work productivity. Productivity and Teamwork

While many on the corporate scene expect couples in the workplace to act like distracted doe-eyed lovers, the opposite is found to be true in happy couples. Close (2002) noted that, Better relations lead to happier working environments, which are healthy for productivity and the
employees (p. 5). When stronger relationships exist amongst couples, teamwork is an e asier skill to utilize. This teamwork can bolster productivity, as ease in communication leads to a more proficient and efficient work environment. Even those employees who are not a part of the couple can benefit from seeing a stable, solid relationship play out in front of them daily, as long as the couple keeps their affection low-key. When fellow colleagues approve of the pair, the approval can encourage teamwork as well. However, if some coworkers are not in favor of the romance, this can reflect badly upon the said coworkers willingness to cooperate with their fellow employees in every aspect of


office existence. In a survey conducted about office romances, one respondent declared, If people

aren't mature enough to deal with romantic relationships at work, they probably don't deal with the business much better (Are office romances OK? 1994). Happier Workers, Better Ideas For office couples, love can be the best workplace fulfiller and inspirer. Research by Foley and Powell (1998) states that, workplace romancesmay help individuals to work to their maximum potential because their personal needs are being satisfied and thereby benefit both individual and organizational performance (para. 13). Working at your full potential in any professional environment is always a plus, but working at your full potential with the person you love can have another added perk: a constant colleague. Calandra (2003) found that even at home, fellow work scientists and sweethearts Elizabeth Balser and Will Jaeckle are brainstorming up work schemes: You always have someone you can talk to about your work and who is interested in your work," Balser says. "You can bounce ideas off someone (para. 5). This incessant interchange of ideas guarantees workers who have more innovative ideas while performing in their organization. The more an individual collaborates with colleagues even ones with which they are romantically involved the more they will offer new ideas, proposals, or even joint projects at work. Having a romantic partner as an associate gives both people more opportunities and more willingness to share organizational ideas outside of work, and in doing so, keeps both more occupationally minded. Conclusion Although workplace romances still have an air of taboo, they must be accepted and recognized for their positive qualities. The productivity, teamwork, happiness, and innovative

LOVERS AND COWORKERS: ROMANCE IN THE WORKPLACE ideas that are birthed by office partnerships should not be dismissed. Just like any project proposal or new employee in the office, organizational romances need to be given a fair shake.

LOVERS AND COWORKERS: ROMANCE IN THE WORKPLACE References Are office romances OK? (1994). Training & Development, 48.5, 38.

Calandra, B. (2003). Love in the lab: as radiant as relationships can be, in a lab they can be risky. The Scientist, 17.24, 46. Close, A. (2002). Rules of Romance at Work: Whos the Boss? Atlantic Marketing Association ,5. Dixon, L., Freidrich, G., & OHair, D. (2011). Strategic Communication in Business and the Professions, 7, 200. Foley, S., & Powell, G. (1998). Something to talk about: romantic relationships in organizational settings. Journal of Management, 24.3, 421.