Office romances are nothing new. In fact, according to a study by ReportLinker, 15% of people met their significant other at work, making it the second most popular way to meet a partner. However, as we enter the age of virtual offices, home based working and the increasing use of digital platforms, are office romances becoming a thing of the past? And if so, are social media platforms like LinkedIn appropriate to make those type of connections?
It’s no secret that I met my now husband at work over seven years ago. To be honest, at the time, I had no idea how else I was going to meet someone. Tinder didn’t exist and meeting someone half decent on a night out was a bigger disaster than Brexit.
We’re all aware of the phrase, “don’t mix business with pleasure”, with some companies even having policies in place where colleagues and work associates cannot date each other. But when most of us are connecting online, these rules seem to be going out the window. LinkedIn, for example, is first and foremost a business platform, created for users to connect and engage with other rofessionals. However, over time, LinkedIn’s content has changed and more people are sharing insights into their personal lives. This in turn has seen some users use this shift as an opportunity to connect with others to find out a bit more than just a their job title and work experience. Whilst this doesn’t sit well with everyone, I don’t think this is always a bad thing.
I personally see no difference in starting a conversation with someone at your place of work about something other than busines, to someone doing this on LinkedIn. It’s called small talk. It’s how most relationships are built. If there is a genuine interest from both parties, you can take it further. If not, you say nice to meet you, and move on. Some may argue, that you didn’t join LinkedIn to be chatted up by some random person online, but I didn’t apply for a job to meet a husband and father of my child either. As long as you’re respectful and the feelings are mutual, I see no harm.
Of course, not everyone has such good intentions. There are those, who, for some
unknown reason, think it is totally acceptable to send inappropriate messages as
conversations starters and those who just don’t take no for an answer. These types of
messages are not only disrespectful, but would also be considered as sexual harassment in any other social situation. Hiding behind a keyboard does not make it
okay, and those who do this, really need to think about the decisions they are making.
So, in the evolving landscape of how we work, is it acceptable to mix business with
pleasure anymore? And if so, what are the rules?