Advice on that hardy perennial, the office romance

Dear Ash,

I have recently developed feelings for a colleague in our department and I think the feelings are mutual. He is also a junior member of the team and we seem to work well together. We are both single and I therefore do not see there being a problem in our going out on a date. However, one of my friends has advised me not to get involved in an office romance as it could prove unpopular with the rest of department and could especially be frowned upon by our boss. I would like to pursue a relationship with the person but at the same time I do not want to jeopardise my career. Any advice?

Ash replies:

Office romances are sometimes inevitable, especially when you spend so much of your time at work, investing time in developing good relations with colleagues as well as spending time socialising after work. However, that is not to say that the pursuance of such relationships is always a good idea, especially when one of the people involved is the manager of the other; luckily you do not have that particular problem to contend with.

The reason for exercising caution is due to the fact that any new relationship has its own challenges, but pursuing a relationship within a working environment has its own unique and additional pressures. Your relationship may be frowned on by others in the department as it could be perceived, perhaps unfairly, that due to your relationship you at the very least hold a certain degree of loyalty to one another as opposed to the rest of your colleagues in the department. This could be perceived to be potentially fractious for the department as a whole and consequently more senior members of the team may disapprove any relationship for this reason. However, if you strive to maintain good working relations with the rest of your colleagues and maintain a degree of professionalism at work, including avoiding any public displays of affection, then any initial negative perceptions from colleagues will probably eventually die down.

Aside from the possible reaction from colleagues, you also have to weigh up the fact that if the relationship were to turn sour, you would still require to maintain a professional relationship with the person at work. This may prove difficult, especially within the initial stages of a breakup and consequently you have to realise that this may have an impact on your performance at work.

However, despite my wailings of caution, I do think that if an office romance is managed correctly by the people involved then it could lead to a happy ever after scenario just like any other relationship. You just have to be more aware of the potential pitfalls and realise that there are added pressures in your path to reaching that happy state!

 

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and trainees, which can be put to her via the editor: peter@ connectcommunications.co.uk, or mail to Studio 2001, Mile End, Paisley PA1 1JS. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

 

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education and Training Department. For one-to-one advice contact Education and Training Manager Katie Meanley on 0131 476 8105/8200, or KatieMeanley@lawscot.org.uk .

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