An office is a complicated organism with multiple things happening all at once. Various departments must work in unison, and communication is key to a smooth workflow. Through this many relationships arise, sometimes political outlook and a wide array of social dynamics. Most relationships between colleagues stay strictly professional while some romance may evolve due to the long hours of companionship, stress, admiration, and of course, attraction. 

In modern society, navigating an office romance can sometimes be tricky. As a company, manager, or even an employee, an office policy on how to deal with office romance must be in place. Here are some considerations for putting into place your policy and points worth asking about, should you find yourself in an office romance. 


In this day and age, consent cannot be stressed enough especially when it comes to office romance. Sexual harassment guidelines should be outlined and regularly reminded to everyone in an organization. An office romance policy should underline that consent is critical. If an office romance is allowed, it does not mean that employees can display overly romantic gestures or lewd conduct in the workspace. The policy should articulate a code of conduct in any situation arising from co-workers dating. From how to express themselves, and how one should act if rejected, to a breakup. 


Once your policy is in place, it is important to make sure that all employees are aware of the guidelines you have in place. Make it a point that these rules are shared and discussed during onboarding to ensure that everyone in the workplace is educated. Keeping the policy as an open topic will remove the stigma and open transparency. Should any romances arise, you want your employees to be comfortable enough to be open about their relationship so that both they and the company are on the same page moving forward. 


Getting into an office romance is not like a regular relationship as it comes with more strings attached and more complications that can impact your life and career. It is important to think things over before you act. Yes, a breakup can hurt feelings, but it can also lead to potential conflicts of interest. After a failed relationship, you're continuing to work together may not be harmonious, your professionalism can be called into question and your reputation cross-examined. While working and dating a co-worker, your abilities may be scrutinized, some may think you get preferential treatment, and any successes may be undermined. For those looking to excel in their career, the constant questions and damage to one's reputation will weigh heavy on their mind. 

Subordinate and Superior Relationships 

A romantic relationship between co-workers of the same level is entirely different from that of subordinate and superior dating. With an imbalance of power, most offices prefer to disallow this type of relationship altogether, given the various problems that could arise. Conflict of interest is more blatantly obvious in this scenario. For example, how can a superior effectively give a performance review of someone they are dating? A promotion? A raise? All of this would be called into question for the subordinate.  

That's not to say that these types of relationships do not happen. Should you find a subordinate and superior relationship in your office, or you are in one, a transfer to another department with a different boss would be best for all parties. This would alleviate any doubt on the subordinate's abilities and erase favoritism claims directed at the superior. 


An office romance is not all that romantic. It is a complicated decision that should not be made lightly by career-driven people. In today's society, banning office romance may seem like a Jurassic concept, but should it be the route your company takes, as an employee, know that your management is looking to safeguard your career. Companies can take setting office romance policies as an opportunity to teach good principles and decision-making amongst their workforces. 

As younger generations fill the workplace, enforcing office romance policies gets harder and harder. HR and managers should not hesitate to enforce the office romance policy they have in place. Both consistency and concise policies will be your guide to piloting this somewhat delicate topic. 

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