Recent research into changing attitudes towards office romance has revealed that nearly a quarter (24%) of people aged 25-34 have had a long-term relationship with a colleague. This is compared to just 12% of over 65s.
As well as relationships, sex between colleagues is becoming more common. 29% of 25-34-year-olds said they have had a one-night stand with someone at work, with just 12% of over 65s saying the same.
The study conducted by office suppliers Viking questioned 2,000 UK office workers on their experience of office romance. The survey also highlights that with a rising number of relationships occurring at work, more companies are introducing policies on this type of thing. 44% of 25-34-year-olds said they are aware of their employer’s policy regarding relationships at work, this is compared to just 17% of over 65s, with 60% saying their employer doesn’t have one.
Communicating an office romance policy will help combat some of the issues internal relationships can cause. While office romance is on the rise, many people who have had relationships highlighted the struggles they faced at work. 37% of office workers said it decreased their productivity and creativity. A further 21% believe it increases stress, and one-in-five (20%) said it had a negative effect on their wellbeing.
When asked about the worst thing about having a relationship with a colleague, 44% of 25-34-year-olds said being the subject of office gossip. For over 65s, the biggest issue with office romance was keeping it a secret (41%), showing that workplaces in the past were less accepting of internal relationships.
Another more common issue amongst young people was being unable to be physical during working hours. 36% of 25-34-year-olds said this was the worst thing about their relationship, compared to just 16% of over 65s.
While workers aged 25-34 find it more difficult not to be physical during office hours, they are also more accepting of sex at work. The survey questioned people on whether they thought it was acceptable to have sex in the office. Following a similar theme to the rest of the study, 54% of 25-34-year-olds say it’s okay, with almost a quarter (24%) having done it themselves. Whereas just 19% of over 65s say it’s acceptable to have sex in the office, with 28% believing it to be unprofessional.
Martine Robins, Director at The HR Dept said:
“I would recommend having clear guidelines and whether it’s a ‘romance policy’ or some other term, clearly stating the importance of being transparent. Particularly if there is likely to be a conflict of interest or a perception of favouritism. The effects of trying to deal with such a situation once it is in motion makes it very difficult for all concerned.”
Stuart Hearn, CEO & Founder of Clear Review, said:
“There are downsides to office romances. There is the potential for favouritism, distraction from work. But there is also potential for meaningful, lasting relationships, which is something to be celebrated — HR simply needs to ensure performance standards are being met and employees are as productive as ever.”