Marketing Eye

How to manage the 'office affair'

Given that we spend so much of our time in the office, it's no wonder so many relationships start while getting coffee in the office. Most companies have policies on how to conduct a relationship with an office colleague or client, but what they don't often cater for is the fact that there is a time frame where you are in no-man's-land. 

What does this mean? You know when the idle flirting begins and perhaps you catch up a few times after work for drinks. Maybe you have a few drinks too many and one thing leads to another. What was once a peck on the cheek goodnight is a full-on smooch.

Every office has gone through this scenario at one time or another, but it's hard to navigate the repercussions. If your colleague works beside you, the early stages of any buddying romance will ensure that you are very distracted. What does this mean for the company you work for? A less productive employee. What can be worse is if the company you work for notices your lack of productivity and address it with you. Embarassing right? Now the new object of your affection knows that someone higher up in the pay-grade is well-aware that you can't stop thinking about them and it's affecting your performance.

What most people do in this case because they are a tad embarassed is blame the company, even if their billable hours per day have gone down dramatically. As a marketing agency, this is a disaster but what is worse than that is when a person stops performing that the level expected by the customer. This certainly is not a winning formula. I digress. When a person you have a bit of a crush on tells you that the company you both work for sucks, then you want to be on their side and on their team. This is human nature. So the company now has two disgruntled employees. 

Worse still, others in the office are noticing and are getting annoyed that everyone doesn't pull their weight. Mostly they are concerned about a 'click' being formed which is really the bond of the two parties in an intimate relationship. No-one likes to feel left out and everyone just wants to work in a level playing field. 

Disaster. What was once an innocent flirtation is all of a sudden affecting more people in the office. While some may be happy that your happy, others will feel a little different. But in reality we can't change how we feel, so what is the best way to navigate an office affair?

Tell Human Resources 

By informing human resources sooner rather than later, you will have a load off your mind. They will go through some protocols that may make you feel uncomfortable, but ultimately, it just sets boundaries around what is expected from a company perspective. 

Have a mature conversation with "the affair"

If it is going to go somewhere, then it's best to have that conversation early. If it was a one-night-stand, and one party wants more, know that your emotional maturity and their's is going to make or break the situation. Be careful how you manage this. If it has potential and you have crossed you 't's' and dotted your 'i's' then try to put the whole relationship thing into a new rule book for how to conduct yourself and what to say in the office. 

Don't quit your job

This is what so many people do and quite often they lose the best career choice they have ever made over a boy or a girl. Remember office romances can work but it takes work - if you know what I mean. Your career is important to you. You are where you are because you chose to be there. Don't let anyone force a choice that isn't something that you really want to do. 

Think from your employers perspective

This is harder to do in a 'me generation' but if you can put yourself in your employers shoes, work out how you can still perform at your best, while enjoying the fact that you have met someone that might just be in your future.

Hope like hell that your employer is mature

This is a biggie. Some managers are unreasonable, and can't see the forest from the trees. But an employer or manager that has been around the tracks a few times, knows that people can co-exist in an office environment if everyone is on the same page. In fact, it might make the team gel more or work more collaboratively. People don't mind staying back at a marketing agency if someone that they would be spending their time with afterwork is doing so too. 

Really, the biggest challenge is getting everyone in a state of maturity over the situation and if the person is senior to you, that all the legal and moral responsibilities are taken into account and addressed.

There is no reason an office affair can't be tried and tested, but be aware. Things could get nasty.

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