Aug 09, 2019 0 Comments
As published by Newscorp –August 07, 2019
It used to be a common story of romance that long hours in the office working sideby-side with a colleague could lead to romance. Or at least, this was the case back in a simpler age and before the atom bomb that is the #MeToo movement erupted and made all of us question how we interact on a personal level within a working environment. Today, only one in five relationships occur through meeting at work, with that number dropping like a stone as men become more and more reticent to participate in any form of flirting, no matter how innocent they may think it to be. The Office’s Pam and Jim were the ultimate work couple.
Picture::Danny Feld/NBC/NBCU via Getty Images
Comments around looks or appearance are seen a major ‘no go’ zone, with male employees particularly keen to avoid any potential misunderstandings. This has created some serious consequences for the relationship between men and women in the workplace, with many managers and senior executives now unwilling to meet with female staff alone, or if they do it’s done with a very wide and open door. There are even reports of senior male executives refusing to mentor women, so the unintended impacts of #MeToo have been far reaching and go well beyond our own love life. Such concerns have also reached employers, with Natasha Hawker from Employee Matters telling me recently that “more and more businesses now have a blanket ‘nodating policy’, while others prevent employees from dating their immediate managers or supervisors.”
Countless relationships have started after meeting at work. Picture: supplied
In the most severe of restrictions, there are companies who are now banning male and female employees from sitting next to each other on an aircraft. With such severe workplace policies around male and female interaction, surely it will not be long before the traditional Christmas party becomes a thing of the past. It’s not as though relationships were all that easy in the pre #MeToo era, something my husband and I experienced when we began dating after meeting at work. While we were in the process of falling in love, everything almost came undone after our relationship began to cause friction with fellow employees, creating a very awkward working environment. We worked through that process and are now happily married, although with the complexities of today I do contemplate whether our relationship would have progressed or even commenced in today’s climate. Such troubles in the workplace only intensifies if a relationship breaks down, particularly in acrimonious circumstances, causing tribes to be created as groups of employees choose to support one partner over the other. Such scenarios create a HR nightmare, and with the pressure of #MeToo added to this, I can see a future where if you do like someone at work, you’ll have to keep it on the down low, and if you pursue it one of you will likely need to change jobs when it starts to get serious.
The shift away from office romances is leading more people online. Picture: Townsville Bulletin
This shift in the ‘how we met’ paradigm has seen online dating rocket up the charts to the number one way now being online, according to a Stanford University study. While 39 per cent of respondents said they had met online, the study, which traced dating habits across a quarter of a century, found the traditional meeting places of a social setting such as a bar or through family and friends, still holds steady at 27 per cent, proving there is still room to meet in a more traditional setting. My advice to couples is that the best way to meet the love of your life is to not close yourself off to any opportunities, whether social, online, or at work. If it is at work, you will need a thick skin and be the type of person who is not concerned about what your fellow employees or employer may think. The key is communication. Be honest with your colleagues, each other, avoid gossiping about your relationship and most importantly, have a clear plan of how you will deal with things if it all goes pear shaped. To seek out love at work in today’s world will take a dose of courage and comes with a level of risk, as most worthwhile things in life do. If you’re brave enough, my biggest tip is do not delay, as any moment a company memo from HR is likely to land on your desk telling you that era of the workplace romance is officially over.