Workplace Romance #metoo

How to avoid a thorny Valentine’s Day?  

As Valentine’s Day 2019 approaches, people often ask “Since love makes the world go ‘round, can’t love make work go ‘round too?” This is a fair question considering how many hours on, average, we spend working. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works 42.8 hours per week, or 8.56 hours per day, not counting weekend work hours.

But, before you decide to place finding true love at work on the top of your projects pile, it’s critical to understand not just the rules, but the reality, of post #metoo workplace romances.

Can you get your “honey” where you make your money?  

You may think that this question relates to your ability to charm. No, no, not at all. This question relates to whether your employer’s policies prohibit romantic relationships between employees. Post #metoo, most companies do not allow managers to be involved with people who work for them or whose careers that they can influence. Likewise, many companies do not allow people in the same department or who report to the same person to date each other. Sometimes these rules apply to company vendors and clients too. Before you make your move, be sure to check your employer’s policies to see if romantic relationships are allowed between co-workers or people that do business with your company.

Make a move in the workplace?  Well….

Let’s assume that your employer’s policies allow peers to date. Great! You’ve jumped over that hurdle only to face this one: the 99.9% certainty rule. In the post #metoo workplace, before you make your big romantic move on a co-worker, you need to be 99.9% sure that you know the person well enough to know that they will be comfortable with your actions. 99.9% certainty has no room for doubt and assumes that you already have enough of a relationship with the other person to pretty much guarantee that they will not be offended or made uncomfortable by your overtures. Lots of sexual harassment complaints involve claims of unwelcome romantic overtures. Although tenacity can be a good quality in most situations, it absolutely is not in this one. If you get a big, fat “IT’S NOT HAPPENING” in response to your grand move on a fellow employee, drown your sorrows in Deep Eddy’s Vodka, lament to your friends… but do not ask again.

Can I hug my Boo at work?

Alright, you confirmed that your company policies allow you to date a peer and you made your move on a workplace colleague who… (drum roll) returns the affection. Well done, you!

So, now you’re a couple. You’re excited. Of course, you want to show your affection towards each other whenever you’re together. Every workplace couple has a couple of things to remember though. First, conducting business is the main priority at your workplace. Being seen as professional at all times is important if you have an interest in moving up the ranks. Second, the workplace is where your employer requires you and your colleagues to show up in order to get paid. In other words, your colleagues have no choice but to be in your midst. If they are forced to see public displays of affection that have no business in the workplace, it can, over time, create a sexually hostile work environment. What types of PDAs have no place at work? Extended hugs of a sexual nature, French kissing and intimate touching of body parts all come to mind. If you’re in a workplace romance, it’s important to remember this: all eyes are on you. Limit the workplace PDAs! Save them for when you’re off the clock.

Keeping these tips in mind can help make your Valentine’s Day sweet, not thorny!