In the wake of powerful men like Harvey Weinstein being outed as workplace sexual predators and the emergence of the powerful #MeToo movement, professional dynamics have begun to change for the better. But, let’s say you have a harmless “work crush” at your nine-to-five. Is it okay to flirt at work?
According to Holly Caplan, a workplace-issues expert and author of the new book “Surviving the D-ck clique: A Girl’s Guide to Surviving the Male-Dominated Corporate World”, there is simply no room for acting upon any sort romantic feelings at your job.
“I don’t advise it at this point for a couple of reasons,” she explains, “It’s really about perception and how you’re perceived if you do flirt and what you are inviting. There are too many questions around that. It’s safer to not flirt because you don't want to get yourself in a predicament with no matter how harmless your flirting is, someone can perceive it in a different manner.”
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Keep romance out of the office
Caplan believes that the firestorm you would be bringing down on yourself would be too detrimental to both your career and your reputation. If you can sense any sort of mutual romantic feelings between you and your work crush, it’s better to figure out where you stand elsewhere.
“Leave it for out of the office. It doesn't have to be done in your cubicles under the bright fluorescent lights,” says Caplan, “If you have a crush on someone or feel like flirting and there’s something you want to pursue with someone I would take it outside of the office. Don’t make the office your anchor for your relationship. Meet at something where you’re away from work and you can actually get to know them better outside of the work environment. I think when you have something in common with something that is work related you can perceive it as something it may not be.”
If you and your work crush sense that there is a real and lasting spark, you should do your part to make it official right away before things get out of control. One thing that many offices now offer to their employees is “love contracts”.
These contracts are designed in order to keep office relationships on record with their HR departments. That way if these relationships become messy, they can move people into different departments to deescalate interoffice tension and make sure there is no professional accountability for the employees or their employer.
Carol believes that signing one of these “love contracts” is the best case scenario for co-workers who want to take it to the next level. “Now you have complete transparency and it protects the employees and the employer because they are considered separate entities.”
All in all, sitcom-ready "will-they-won’t-they" office relationships have no room in the workplace. So if you feel the need to flirt with someone in the cubicle next to you, think again.