The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Romance in office gets heart-warming support

New Delhi, Sept. 26: Traditional wisdom ' mixing personal and professional lives can be risky.

Today’s reality ' everyone, well almost everyone, loves a romance in the office.

About 58 per cent of the respondents in an Internet poll have voted in support of coochie-cooing at the coffee machine., the job-hunting portal, ran a question on its website for a fortnight early this month to help decide whether pursuing an office romance is in the best interest of employees.

About 12,191 people sent their answers. It turns out that some 58 per cent of them have either had office romances or are having one or are ready to have one. The Monster Meter asked: “Have you ever had an office romance'”

“No, I don’t think it’s appropriate,” said 42 per cent of the respondents. Some 25 per cent said, “Yes”, another 23 per cent said, “No, but I wouldn’t mind” and 10 per cent said, “I am having one now”.

Dhruv Shenoy, vice-president, marketing, Monster Asia, said: “The result of this poll is an indication of the changing social dynamics at the workplace. Today, to keep up with the pressures of job and career, employees may be inclined to spend more and more time at the office. It also may mean they are spending more time with their colleagues, resulting in more companionships formed at the workplace.”

With the opening up of the economy and technological changes, increasing numbers of multinational companies are coming in and new job profiles are emerging. All this has led to cultural changes taking place at a faster pace, including in the workplace. Office romance often develops in companies where teamwork and collaboration are emphasised and employees have to put in long hours. It is not such a bad thing as the puritan might see it to be. Experts say office romance creates a sunny workplace, increasing productivity, provided the couple does not take too many coffee breaks.

In the West, some efforts were made to prohibit office romance, but failed because of legal restrictions. A ban would amount to human rights violation.

But office romance at times cause legal problems. Misuse of official e-mail and Internet and invasion of privacy of other employees in the office are some, said Pawan Duggal, a cyber law expert and Supreme Court lawyer. “Employers have often taken disciplinary action. However in some sectors where there is a high attrition rate, the employers themselves encourage office romance by not taking action to ensure employees stay on,” Duggal added.

Rashmi (name changed), who works in a call centre, said: “The kind of profile in a call centre leads to more office romance. The workers here are just out of college, same age, have money, independence, different timing, are cut off from society and have a restricted peer group to share their times and emotions with.”

But, she has found that most of the romance at call centres is puppy love and partners change quickly.

Dheerj Kumar, who works in a software development centre, said: “It happens even in MNCs. But the biggest problem is the bias that develops. If there is a romance going on between the team leader or someone in a high position and a junior colleague, the workload is shifted from the junior to others in the team.”

Monster is running another question. “Could the love of your life be sitting in the next cubicle' Does your company have a policy prohibiting workplace romances'

Companies in the West have what they call fraternisation policies that set out the dos and don’ts in an office relationship.

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