Looking for love in the office?

Apr 18, 2012, 08:51 IST | Aviva Dharmaraj

Gen Y Americans say they are open to the idea of an office romance, because it means improved performance and an increase in morale in the workplace. Do you agree?

A survey conducted by the US-based employee support services company, Workplace Options, and Public Policy Polling from January 13 to 16 of this year found that 84 per cent of Millennial or Gen Y Americans (aged between 18 and 29) were open to the idea of dating someone from their workplace. Compare this to just 36 per cent of workers from the previous generation, Gen X. The online survey that polled 556 working Americans also found that 40 per cent of Gen Y workers said they would have no problem dating their supervisors, compared to 12 per cent of the older respondents.

Nikhil Udupa (27), who works in digital marketing, says that he has his reservations about colleagues dating. “It would be really complicated if one had to report to another, work-wise,” he says, adding, “Having said that, relationships are complicated. I think it’s okay to date your boss, because the relationship is bigger than your designation, and one needs to keep egos aside when you go back home and share the same bed.”

He’s right. Relationships are complicated. So, why would one willingly enter a potentially ‘risky’ relationship, given the skewed power-equation, the likelihood of allegations of favouritism by fellow colleagues, not to mention the ‘awkwardness’ of having to deal with an ex on a regular basis, if the relationship doesn’t work out? The answer might lie in hope. “There are several instances of successful marriages between an ex-boss and his/ her subordinate,” says psychiatrist Anand Desai. The important thing, Desai believes, is in achieving the right balance. “The work-place environment can present challenges of informal relations co-existing with the formal one. The inability to manage these two distinct relations with the same person can pose difficulties in either or both relationships. The challenge is to handle parallel relationships with the same individual,” he adds.

Leadership manager Mandar Hublikar, who works with a media house, says that office romances are no longer considered taboo given the changing work conditions. “The younger generation spends more time in the office, hence they get to know their colleagues on a personal level, resulting in a higher chance of emotional involvement with each other,” he says. Desai believes that more women in the office means more confidence among women, which in turn contributes to the greater likelihood of romantic possibilities. “An increased sense of security among women could be one of the reasons for their confidence in being able to manage a variety of relationships,” he says, adding that technology too has its role to play in making communication easily accessible, affordable and discreet between colleagues.

In a traffic-congested city like Mumbai, one of the obvious pros of getting into an office romance means that you save on time spent in commuting to meet each other, quips Udupa. “The con is that you don’t get any space in the relationship,” he adds. It might be worth noting, however, that when the respondents were asked whether they had noticed an increase in the number of romantic relationships, only 4 per cent claimed that they had; 39 per cent said that it had remained the same.

Gen Y says ‘Yes’ to office romances
Key findings conducted by the Public Policy Polling in mid-January that polled 556 working Americans:
>> 84 per cent of between the ages of 18 and 29 said they were open to having a romantic relationship with a co-worker, compared to 36 per cent of Generation X workers
>>  40 per cent of Millennials/ Generation Y workers said they would have no problem dating their supervisors, compared to 12 per cent of the older respondents 

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