There’s at least one workplace activity that’s in no danger of being outsourced any time soon — the office romance. A majority of workers worldwide report that romantic relationships occur in the workplace from time to time, according to a new study. And most employees embrace the idea of on-the-job romance.
More than half (57 percent) of global respondents acknowledged that romantic relationships do occasionally happen in the workplace, according to a study of employees in 32 countries conducted by Randstad, a staffing company.
In China, India and Malaysia, 70 percent of employees reported workplace romantic liaisons, compared with countries where romantic relationships in the workplace are less common, including Japan (33 percent) and Luxembourg (36 percent).
There are well-known risks associated with office romances. They can disrupt productivity not only for those in the relationship, but also for those who work with the couple. Such relationships can also hurt morale if favoritism between the couple is perceived or if the relationship ends badly, Randstad said.
But only 40 percent of workers worldwide believe that a romantic relationship between colleagues interfered with their performance at work. And nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of respondents believe that romantic relationships do not need to be problematic.
The results also found that when a romantic relationship does occur, up to 44 percent of global respondents believe one of the two people involved should be transferred to another department. The consensus, however, is that resignation is a step too far when it comes to office romance. Globally, only 24 percent feel that one of the two people should resign from their job when romantically involved.
"People spend a significant amount of time in the office and it is often a place where people feel a sense of community," said Stacy Parker, an executive vice president of marketing for Randstad's Canadian operations. "The company is likely filled with people who share the same values, principles, work ethic, skills and education. So it's not surprising that romance tends to spark between employees.
"Many companies are open to the idea, but your company could have a 'no office romance' policy. If you don't have a policy against it and you decide to go ahead and date your co-worker, keep it out of the office. This means no public displays of affection—keep it as professional and low-key as possible. It's also a good idea to never date someone you supervise or who supervises you."