Look, it’s probably never a good idea to intentionally start hooking up with a co-worker. There’s the inevitable awkwardness of being forced to see each other (and work together) if one or both of your regrets it. And there’s the even bigger complications that can start if one or both of you catches feelings and your hook ups become a “thing.” And that’s to say nothing of corporate dating policies of if one of you (oh no!) is actually subordinate to the other, or if (yikes!) one or both of you is already in a committed relationship. We know you know that workplace relationships can get very messy very fast, and they’re generally not a good idea.
But! We know you’re human. Things happen. Things especially tend to happen when single people spend a lot of time working closely together. So how should you navigate a co-worker hookup if one does happen? We’ve got the info to help you maneuver through the tricky world of workplace dating.
Check corporate policy
So you hooked up. The next step is checking corporate policy. While many companies instituted hard no-dating policies a few decades ago, many have discovered just how unrealistic it can be to assume co-workers will completely avoid romantic entanglements. In response, we see more and more policy written to accommodate those circumstances. If you’re both in lateral level positions, there’s a good chance that your relationship is already sanctioned by corporate policy.
Disclose to your boss or HR
Yes, even if your relationship is ok according to company policy, you’re probably required to disclose your relationship to the appropriate people. We know this can be tricky when you’re thinking, “there really isn’t a relationship” but, trust us, human resources knows how these things go. Just make an appointment, tell them there is a bit of a relationship (leave out the gory details, please!) and they’ll tell you how to proceed. Ideally, you and the co-worker you hooked up with can navigate this together.
If your relationship is not covered by corporate policy, or worse if—it is forbidden—you still need to disclose. We know. We know, we know, we know. But waiting until later, hoping no one will find out is not the best idea. Usually, as long as you don’t have a history of this sort of behavior, you’ll find some understanding ears. Just remember that honesty is going to get you much further than dishonesty
Be prepared for some changes
Regardless of how your relationship is received after disclosure, be prepared for one or both of you to be moved to a different department—particularly is one of you is subordinate to the other. There’s a power imbalance in a boss/employee relationship that you shouldn’t attempt to negotiate, so while the hook up likely won’t cost either of your your employment, it may mean a new position. Be open to the response you receive and try to look at it from your boss’s, other co-workers’ and from the company’s side.