Despite Covid and teleworking, romantic relationships flourish in the office

Contrary to popular belief, teleworking has not alienated colleagues from each other. On the contrary.

Although it has become less possible to look at the coffee machine due to working from home, it has not deterred many employees from falling in love with their colleagues. According to a survey by the Society of Human Resource Management, which publishes its data from February 2022, 33% of U.S. employees say they are currently involved or have been involved in a romantic relationship at work. This is an increase of 6% compared to the periods before the Covid-19 pandemic (27%).

550 Americans were questioned between January 13 and 18. If 50% of them say they are in love with a colleague, they are 75% to consider themselves “comfortable with people in their workplace being involved in a romance” within the framework of professionals. In addition, more than a quarter of American workers (26%) are “currently willing to be involved in a romantic relationship at work,” the survey reports.

More than a quarter of workers started a romance at the time of the pandemic

In detail, they are also 26% to have started a new romantic relationship at their workplace during the Covid-19 pandemic, or to have continued an existing relationship that began before the pandemic.

“It is not surprising that so many people are interested in their colleagues”, for the work “has taken more and more of our time for years”, explains BBC Vanessa Bohns, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Cornell University US.

For Amy Nicole Baker, a professor at the University of New Haven in the United States who studies workplace romance and organizational psychology, “those who find love at work are a constant statistic. As long as people interact together in a common work environment, you see the basic mechanics of human attraction happen, “whether the environment is physical or virtual.

On the other hand, 65% of American workers who are or have been involved in a work romance have dated their peers, while 12% have dated their subordinates and 19% with their superiors.

“Intimacy and intimacy” despite working from home

“The work is a first-rate place for the development of two important attraction factors,” said Amie Gordon, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, USA, who studies relationship psychology. Spending so much time with someone in such an environment “could quite possibly set the stage for a romantic relationship because of these two factors: intimacy and intimacy,” she says.

The more a person sees something or someone, the more he is likely to like it. This preference for confidentiality is a psychological bias called “mere exposure effect.” The simple fact of seeing someone several times can therefore lead to attraction.

Moreover, constant interaction is likely to create a preference, regardless of medium, virtual or real. This may explain why office romance has survived the era of teleworking. It is also “an emotional closeness and an intellectual closeness,” explains Amy Nicole Baker. Whether it’s via email, Zoom or Slack, you always interact with each other.

Another factor that transcends physical presence in the office is people’s preference for people who are similar to them, which can potentially extend to work, given that colleagues have chosen the same career and business. “If you are both lawyers, or both are educated in the same way, or both think about the world in the same way, that equality will also promote appreciation and understanding,” Baker says.

Protect employees from situations that could go wrong

However, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., president of the Society of Human Resource Management, who authored the study, says it is “critical for employers to have a dating policy in the workplace to” avoid harmful situations if conditions go wrong “.

He continues: “It is the responsibility of HR professionals to protect employees in these situations, whether they are against favoritism, retaliation or sexual harassment. It is important to encourage transparency and professionalism, while providing information on acceptable and unacceptable behavior. , including instructions on when relationships should be reported and to whom “.

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