Labours of love: Birds do it, bees do it – but workplace colleagues?

Labours of love: Birds do it, bees do it – but workplace colleagues?

A great place to meet someone special is at work! Two out of five of you reading this are likely in a workplace relationship. And of those, 27% are likely to, or have married – all according to a recent UK study.

We spend so much time with our colleagues, it’s no wonder that a sneaky frisson between people sometimes escalates into something more.

When you’re collaborating on a project, going to a conference (yep, definitely happens a lot there) or sneaking glances in the boardroom, romance in the workplace is perennial.

Is it a problem? Some think so; your place of employment is not a love nest or sex fest. Others disagree; is it any wonder with people you know almost as well as your family and friends that romance blossoms?

Romance is wonderful. It’s not “shades of grey” – it’s all colours and textures; delicious, surprising, disconcerting, unexpected, unrequited, sometimes inevitable. Who’s to say whether it should be compartmentalised when the emotion is real? However, that is what we all must do, particularly at work, since love’s place is not there but somewhere else, preferably after hours. This includes emails, your social media, quickies in the stationery cupboard…

I’m not going to proscribe the nature of people’s amours (unless they’re illegal), but spreading the love (of the romantic variety) is not exactly an option. It can curtail perceptions of you as a professional, can cause unwarranted or malicious gossip, might affect your career or promotion chances, and even if you do marry on the strength of it, still yields mutterings about pillow talk, etc. Do you really want that to obstruct where you’re heading?


Not at work!


Enjoy love and desire when they appear, but immerse and wallow in them during your spare time. Not at work! Do you really think people don’t notice your body language changes when a certain person is around? Your red cheeks? The secret text exchanges?

Keep these things in mind:

  • In the early stages, flirt but do it over cocktails in the evening, or jogging in the mornings
  • Be discreet – if the emotion is mutual, declare it away from the office
  • Resist the urge to broadcast about your emotions and attractions for anyone at work
  • Enjoy your times together, but don’t bring them to the office (love doesn’t belong there, and there’s no need to flaunt it anyway)
  • Get it out of your system, but not at the office Christmas party
  • Don’t send mash emails, texts, online chats on office computers or mobiles (especially if you’re dallying with a staff member, a manager, a client, a supplier, a team member, married people… that is probably everyone!)
  • Let your urges fuel your productivity (the work variety, not your relationship chemistry)
  • Be happy but not one-track minded (remember your work, do your work, focus!)

Above all, consider others – there are many reasons to do so and when you do, then you are sharing the love in a constructive way.

Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace.


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