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Connecting Between the Cubicles

If you have a traditional 40-hour workweek, it’s entirely possible you spend more time with your co-workers than your own family. Considering the amount of time Americans spend at the office is only getting longer, and a majority aren’t even using all of their vacation hours, the bonds you build at work aren’t just good for productivity or teamwork – they can also boost employee morale.

But what happens when one of these relationships becomes extra friendly?

Despite the stigma surrounding workplace relationships, more than half of American professionals have gotten romantic with a co-worker. While some of these relationships may have been brief, 16 percent met their spouses while on the job. So just how bad are office romances after all? To learn more, we surveyed 400 Americans currently in workplace relationships and 500 Americans not in workplace relationships to get their take on office romances, how they changed the way respondents approached their jobs, and which industries saw the most after-hours mingling. Read on to see what we uncovered.

Finding Love in So Many Places

Finding a work-life balance doesn’t just affect the time you spend at work – it can also affect your health, relationships, and the community around you. There are only so many hours in the day after all, and the more you spend working, the less you’ll have for other priorities. In some industries, workplace relationships may be more common among employees who simply don’t have the time to date elsewhere.

Striking the right balance in the hospitality industry can be especially difficult with long (and often unconventional) shifts, fast-paced environments, and occasionally high turnover rates. According to Americans surveyed, the majority of people in the hotel, food services, and hospitality industry were currently in workplace relationships.

They weren’t alone either. While slightly less common, employees working in finance and insurance, wholesale and retail, and technology were more likely to get intimate with colleagues than other industries. Like hospitality, Americans working in the technology sector often struggle to find a balance with the amount of time they spend working each day, particularly when long hours and endless workweeks are too often associated with success.

Good for Business

Workplace relationships can be fodder for watercooler chats, and it’s not uncommon if co-workers, managers, and even the HR department have something to say when a new office courtship goes public. Still, companies with formal policies against office romance may want to reconsider their positions on these extracurricular liaisons.

According to our survey, Americans currently in workplace relationships considered themselves happier, more productive, and even more likely to be comfortable with their current rate of pay than those not dating or involved with a co-worker.

Americans coupled up at work were even less fearful for their job security than people not in workplace relationships, and even those who’d previously been romantically linked to a co-worker saw themselves as happier and more productive. Research has shown almost nothing in life makes us happier than being in love, and a successful relationship is often more fulfilling than a successful career.

Differing Points of View

With so many people finding love on-site these days, the stigma around relationships at work could be on the way out. While some experts still suggest you should never engage in romance with a co-worker, a spate of Americans surveyed didn’t share that sentiment.

Nearly a quarter of Americans not dating someone at work still felt the odds were better when trying to woo a co-worker over someone outside the office, and almost 37 percent of people dating a co-worker at the time of our survey agreed to that prospect. However, only about 1 in 10 respondents thought their workplace performance was improved while coupling up with a co-worker. Perhaps the fear of formal policies around company dating or a preoccupation with how to handle their day to day if things don’t work out is the reason behind these low figures.

Dating someone at work could change your perspective on the relationships you have with other co-workers. Americans involved with someone at their job were more inclined to suggest they had a better rapport with their peers and that working with a significant other was better for relationship satisfaction.

Less Inclined to Share

Having sex with someone you work with isn’t the same as dating them, and the rules may be different for both, according to the people surveyed.

While the overall perception of workplace romance was positive, people working in certain industries weren’t as keen on the idea as others. Americans in information services and data processing, the scientific community, and medical and health care were the least likely to agree it was appropriate to date a co-worker.

Sex around the office might fall under different parameters completely. Nearly 74 percent of Americans in manufacturing said it was appropriate to date a co-worker, and 81 percent said they had sex with a co-worker, but employees in manufacturing were the most likely to hide their relationship than any other industry. Regardless of whether you’re just hooking up or are in it for the long haul, there can be advantages to keeping your relationships private. Perhaps most importantly, it can make breaking up easier if fewer people are aware of your romance in the first place.

Other industries where you might find more physical relationships? Over 60 percent of Americans working in wholesale and retail, technology, the arts, and hospitality had slept with a co-worker at some point in their professional careers.

Revealing Undisclosed Relationships

There’s nothing wrong with trying to keep your personal life private, but that doesn’t always mean it’s going to stay that way.

For most, choosing to keep a relationship quiet was more out of preference than demand, and less than 1 in 10 Americans dated a co-worker when they shouldn’t and were caught. Still, secret courtships occasionally come to light, and the revelation can be a bit embarrassing for some.

We found it was more common for Americans in office romances to get caught kissing or hooking up than to openly share the happy news. Gossip was a concern for some, and there’s always the chance you might be seen in public.

Right Time, Right Space?

Whether they just can’t keep their hands off of each other or are just secretly enjoy the thrill of trying not to get caught, more of your co-workers than you realize could be having sex while on the clock.

More than 40 percent of Americans working in manufacturing admitted to getting physical on the job, followed by people working in science-related jobs (over 33 percent), arts and entertainment, and technology (around 28 percent each).

Least likely to be overcome with the urgency for passion during office hours? Americans working in government positions (nearly 13 percent), retail (over 15 percent), and finance (around 16 percent).

Executive Engagement

It’s been said a person can’t help whom they love, and when it comes to office romances, that logic could apply to your manager as well. While a majority of Americans in workplace relationships were involved with co-workers, a few told us about their experiences sleeping with a superior instead.

Perhaps more stigmatized than sleeping with someone in your own department, analysts suggest sleeping with a boss is more likely to jeopardize relationships with co-workers and likely to end poorly. Even if the relationship turns out to be the real deal, one of you would probably have to leave your job behind.

People working in manufacturing were the most likely to have slept with a supervisor, followed by those in the arts and entertainment, hospitality, and retail sectors.

Protecting What Matters Most

Considering how many hours you spend at work every day, getting to know your co-workers on a more intimate level might be easier than online dating or a blind get-together. Americans who’d been involved in an office romance weren’t just happier than everyone else – they also considered themselves more productive while on the job.

Office romances may be better for employee morale than we originally thought, but nothing will make you feel better than knowing your business has the coverage it needs to protect its brand from injury, property damage, or even income interruption. At insuranceQuotes, our goal is to make sure your business is covered from A to Z. Whether you’re a small business or a Fortune 500 company, the right insurance doesn’t just protect your company; it also helps protect the people who work for you. For a free quote, the latest information on business insurance claims, and everything you need to know to stay covered, visit us at insuranceQuotes to learn more.


For this project, we conducted a survey of 900 Americans. Four hundred were involved in workplace relationships, while 500 were not in workplace relationships.


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