Even at work, love is a private matter. This is both good news and bad news for couples. On the one hand, a boss cannot forbid an employee from falling in love with a co-worker. While there may be so-called house rules that may lead you to think twice about starting a relationship at work, such rules are in no way binding. On the other hand, love remains a private matter. Your relationship with our co-worker should influence your daily work as little as the occasional disagreement with your best friend, the effect of the odd hangover and your cat’s ankle injury.
Your boss may ask a new couple to make their relationship public apropos of their colleagues. This is intended to keep the proverbial water cooler conversation as free of gossip as possible. It has the larger goal of keeping the atmosphere at work positive. Your boss is also within their rights if they ask the couple to refrain from open displays of love at the workplace. If your relationship with your co-worker is already official, it is a good idea to inform your boss and colleagues thereof.
Common sense should serve as a guide for behaviour that is and is not acceptable at work. Hence, French kissing after a conference is just as much a taboo as a quickie on the photocopier. The same goes for all other Hollywood clichés that spring to mind. All the machos and models who consider the workplace as a dating agency rather than the place of work should also exercise restraint. An accusation of sexual harassment is a risk that nobody would reasonably assume. The consequences of such an accusation are anything but trivial. They include but are not limited to receiving an official warning and losing your job. Experts also warn against any inclination to flirt with one’s boss because people are liable to suspect the flirt of using the relationship to manipulate and improve their career prospects. Another risky scenario is a mentor-intern relationship that develops romantic overtones; mentors and interns must never take advantage of their position to manipulate the other.
If all goes well and your relationship does not compromise productivity and professionalism at work, there are benefits of a couple working in the same office. Unlike most couples, the two co-workers see each other at work every day, share the same working hours and (work-related) interests and have a good understanding of the code of conduct mandated by the workplace. Couples that work together also have a better understanding of how their partner acts in their private life. They know whether their partner copes well with stress and whether they need support in particular circumstances. Working for the same company also makes it easier to organise the same holidays and days off. When allocating holidays, employers tend to respect the social circumstances of their employees, and this is particularly so if an employed couple has children.