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Anne Zimmerman

Anne Zimmerman

June 23, 2015

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Co-Workers Hooking Up?

“Help!” My friend Jamie wrote to me in an e-mail. “I just found out two of my co-workers are sleeping together. I’m so disgusted! I want to tell my boss, but is there really anything wrong with shacking up with someone you work with?”

Good question, Jamie! Office hookups are hardly unusual these days. According to one survey, 82% of respondents knew of an illicit romance going on in their office. Think your co-workers are hitting the sheets? Here’s how to handle it.

Don’t think about it. Canoodling co-workers often produces that “Ew, gross!” reaction. After all, your relationship with your co-workers is borderline familial. Yes, you’re irritated by their idiosyncrasies, but you love them anyway. Keep your workplace productive by banishing all thoughts of your horny co-workers from your brain. It isn’t your business anyway.

Don’t fawn over the flirting. It doesn’t matter if you have a hunch there’s some interoffice shacking up or if you know it’s going on. Either way, you should do your best to steer clear of the situation and encourage everyone else to do the same. Don’t worry about what your co-workers are doing after 5 p.m. unless it starts to impact a project or job performance.

Don’t gossip. It isn’t your place to spread rumors about what James and Lucy are doing after hours. If they decide to come out of the closet with their interoffice relationship, that’s great. Until then, don’t be the person who is whispering and watching. It just makes you look like you don’t have a life.

Don’t get involved. Most clandestine office romances crash and burn quickly. Avoid becoming a part of the awkwardness by not getting involved in the first place. This means keeping your distance when your office-mate is baiting you with stories about what she did after the late meeting. You don’t really want to know, do you?

Don’t tattle. Some companies have policies about “co-worker socializing.” In other offices there’s no policy, but romance isn’t exactly encouraged. Think very carefully before deciding to tell a boss that your co-workers are romantically involved. What’s your motivation? Would you be telling the higher-ups simply because you think interoffice romance is wrong and you think they should know about it? Are you expecting some sort of reprimand for the guilty parties? Are you just doing it to be mean? Unless you know that the after-hours romance is affecting work performance, company confidentiality, or the status of a major project, you should probably keep your lips sealed and your nose to the grindstone. You’d expect the same in return, right?