Relationships at Work


As John Donne once wrote, “no man is an island”. It’s hard not to agree with these words. Surrounded by other people, we interact and create bonds. Therefore, setting crystal-clear boundaries between professional and private life seems to be mission impossible. Though many have tried, very few succeeded.

We love, hate, and build relationships in the workplace, and beyond. That’s the natural order of things, whether we like it or not. Just have a look.

  • A 2022 SHRM research revealed that workplace romance is on the rise.
  • A 2022 Gallup study showed that globally, 3 in 10 employees claimed they had a best friend at work.
  • A 2018 Total Jobs survey unveiled that 6 in 10 respondents had a work enemy.

Let’s dig deeper. LiveCareer has recently conducted a study on workplace relationships. Keep on reading to find out what the research uncovered.

Pros and Cons of Relationships at Work

During our working life, we’ll spend more time with our colleagues than with our own family. Is it possible not to bond, then? Not necessarily.

As many as 94% of respondents claimed they had made close friends with someone they worked with. Also, they believed that the positives of having friends at work included:

  • increased job satisfaction – 83%
  • improved workplace communication – 83%
  • higher sense of trust in the workplace – 81%
  • greater productivity – 81%
  • enhanced collaboration – 81%

On the other hand, being close to your colleagues might cause some inconvenience as well. According to participants, the drawbacks of workplace friendships were as follows:

  • difficulty in maintaining a work-life balance – 79%
  • less constructive feedback between colleagues – 77%
  • difficulty in protecting your privacy – 75%
  • distractions impacting productivity – 74%

Some more study findings to mention here:

  • When asked about the life span of friendships, 41% of the surveyed claimed workplace friendships were equally lasting as friendships outside of work. Friends will be friends, right?
  • Almost 9 in 10 (88%) respondents declared they socialized with their colleagues outside of work.
  • According to research participants, workplace gossip (32%), competition (26%), and lack of trust (24%) were most likely to put an end to workplace friendships.

Well. No analysis of the pros and cons of making friends can actually stop us from doing so. Friends add sparkle to our life. In the workplace, and beyond. You don’t argue with facts.

Workplace Romance in Numbers

Let’s have a look at office romantic relationships now. Actions speak louder than words, don’t they? Check out the stats.

  • 75% of research participants declared they had a romantic relationship with someone from their work.

[education—93% vs. business and finance—67%]

  • 70% had flirted with a colleague.

[education—86% vs. healthcare—61%]

  • 59% had had sex with a colleague.

[education—75% vs. software/IT—47%]

  • 67% knew someone who had cheated on a partner with a colleague.

[education—87% vs. software/IT—60%]

  • 73% knew someone who had met their spouse in the workplace.

[education—82% vs. healthcare—66%]

As you see, you can meet love at work. The question is how do other workers feel about office romance. Let’s find out.

Opinions on Romantic Relationships at Work

In general, the vast majority of respondents had no problem with romantic relationships in the workplace.

  • 76% of survey takers claimed they were comfortable with their colleagues being romantically involved.
  • Most participants believed there was nothing wrong with dating your colleagues (76%) or your manager (75%).

Still, as sweet as love can be, office romance also has a dark side. Let’s have a look.

  • 75% of respondents believed workplace romance might lead to favoritism.
  • 74% were of the opinion that being romantically involved with someone at work could cause productivity loss. 
  • 73% considered romantic relationships in the workplace as unprofessional.

Last but not least. As many as 8 in 10 participants declared they’d consider changing a job if they started a romantic relationship with someone they work with.

Falling in love at work may be a risky move, as you can see. Still, Cupid’s arrows have their own way. Always keep it professional. There’s no better way to end workplace gossips without ending the relationship.

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