You’d think that not being able to see your colleagues or interact with them in person would scupper love in the workplace. But apparently, that’s not the case.
Lots of couples have met at work and an increasing number have met online. So, is it really surprising that romance can bloom in a remote work set-up?
On average, people spend 90,000 hours at work throughout their lifetime. Hence, it’s highly expected that meeting someone special in the workplace is bound to happen – even if you’re working remotely.
With the rise of technology, communication has been easier than ever. These days, we can connect with anyone – family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers. Technological advancements, as it turns out, have also improved our dating chances.
Let’s take a look.
Romance In The (Remote) Workplace
The heart wants what it wants – even if there are strict HR policies in place. In one survey, 50 percent of employees have admitted to crushing on a colleague.
More to the point, 34 percent said they’d been involved in an office romance in the same survey. Even more surprisingly, 25 percent of the respondents started a new office romance in the midst of the pandemic.
Lastly, an overwhelming 78 percent claimed that the companies they work for don’t require them to disclose their office relationships. So, obviously, workplace relationships are alive and well in the time of remote work.
Happily (N)ever After: The Consequences of Workplace Romance
But it looks like love doesn’t conquer everything.
Based on a global survey, 40 percent believe a workplace romance is harmful to one’s career. Work is stressful enough. A relationship with a colleague could just complicate things.
Aside from the stress that comes with navigating romance at work, there are also concerns about favouritism (perceived or otherwise) and an imbalance of power within the relationship. For example, employees aren’t likely to look favourably upon love blossoming between their supervisor or employer and a colleague.
And in the #MeToo aftermath, it’s hard not to suspect that the more powerful between the partners could have coerced the other into a relationship – whether it’s true or not.
Should You Allow or Forbid Relationships In Your Remote Team?
Thus, it’s possible to take a hard stance and forbid workplace romances outright. It’s also perfectly fine to take a more liberal approach: that is to allow such so long as both parties can maintain their productivity levels at work.
Romance, per se, usually isn’t the problem. But if someone gets promoted or gets out of doing certain tasks because of their relationship with a supervisor, then you have a problem.
Handling Remote Work Romances
The COVID-19 pandemic made most of us feel isolated and in need of meaningful connections.
Many remote workers feel bored and lonely. Sure, they could easily just use dating apps like Bumble and Tinder, but nothing beats forming an attachment to someone you interact with daily, such as a co-worker.
Apps like Skype and Microsoft Teams have also made it possible for colleagues to see each other. The next thing you know, some of your remote workers are officially together.
Now, the question is, how do you move forward?
A tactful conversation with the parties involved is a great place to begin. Ideally, it’s best if they don’t work in the same department. You may also want to remind them about conducting themselves professionally at work (i.e., refraining from virtual PDAs or having personal conversations in group chats).
But if we’re talking about a relationship between a supervisor and a direct report, you’ll need a different approach.
Be unsparingly honest about your reservations, especially the ones pertaining to a potential abuse of power. Don’t forget to discuss any adverse consequences for the team members in case the parties involved break up too.
But don’t forget to hear them out as well. If they both have a great track record at work and have a concrete plan for keeping their personal and professional lives separate, it could be worth giving them a go.
At the end of the day, we all want the same things: achieving a healthy balance between work and life…and love.
Remote Staff has been helping many Australian SMEs and entrepreneurs find skilled remote workers from the Philippines since 2007. Aside from hiring, we also provide onboarding support to ensure that working relationships remain as smooth as possible – regardless of any personal relationships that may blossom within or without the team.
Happy Valentine’s Day!