Office Romance: Is It Worth It?

We all know single people who spend most of their waking hours at work and it would be a dream come true for them to find love on the job as opposed to dealing with blind dates or even online matchmaking. But the downside is daunting: Those kisses by the copier can cost you your paycheck. So you want to think it through before hooking up with co-workers.

Check company policy. Before you get in too deep, find out whether your company has a policy about workplace relationships. Many corporations have formal, written policies that prohibit them. Sometimes it includes all employees, or it may be limited to senior executives and their subordinates Others extend to relationships with clients and vendors. You may recall the head of Boeing was forced out when his relationship with a female employee was revealed. So you might not want to go on a date with a co-worker if it will jeopardize your job.

Many policies are now being reevaluated, especially because many workers are loath to have their bosses tell them who they can or can't date. So in your place of employment, this may be an evolving issue.

Consider your colleagues. Consider how your colleagues will react. Some may think you're focusing more on your new romance than on your work — whether it's true or not. There's a risk of alienating them. Distancing yourself from the people you work with can't possibly benefit your professional growth and development.

Conflict with your significant other. And then there's the potential conflict with your new love. What happens when you two are at odds — for personal or professional reasons? It puts an awkward strain on the workplace dynamics — between the two of you, and among everyone you work with. No relationship is perfect. Even small disagreements can get magnified when you have to see your love all day long.

But assuming your heart leads the way and you find yourself attracted to the colleague in the next cubicle. Your "Romeo and Juliet" fantasies just can't be controlled. Consider a few key issues to avoid unhappy ending.

Keep it to yourself. Be discreet, especially at the beginning. Dating publicly invites workplace gossip. So keep it to yourself until you see where the relationship goes. If it fizzles, no one needs to know, and you can avoid the embarrassment of announcing a breakup.

Keep it professional. Don't hold hands, no public displays of affection. Even if your romance is public knowledge, trust me, no co-worker wants to see your canoodling.

Keep your e-mail clean. Finally — and this is super important — workplace e-mail is not necessarily private. In many companies, it's monitored, so before exchanging hot and heavy love notes, be warned that the boss is likely reading what you write.

Tory Johnson is the workplace contributor on "Good Morning America" and the CEO of Women for Hire. Connect with her at www.womenforhire.com.

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