Finding your ideal partner can occur in all sorts of different places, often where you least expect it. I hear a number of people tell me that they never ‘screw the crew” and therefore stay away from possible liaisons with work colleagues. However this can rule out a whole range of possible love interests that may be perfect for you! In a recent survey commissioned by Careerone.com, they found that nearly one in three admitted to an office romance. So is it a good idea?

Well there’s plenty of upsides to an office romance. You can find out so much about someone from the way they are at work. Their levels of responsibility and ambition, how they solve problems and follow through with tasks, their sense of humour and ability to socialize with others. You can flirt with them and hear about their personal life without having to give too much away. You can observe their dress sense, how they manage conflict and find out about their values, interests and future goals. All up – it can be a hotbed for meeting someone.

However the downsides to this can be messy. There may be an HR policy against this, and therefore you could lose your job if you proceed. As well, you need to be aware that your new relationship might affect your level of work performance, fuel gossip, create favouritism, and influence people’s level of respect for you both. You may find that this could blur work boundaries, create arguments at the office, delicate personal information may be disclosed to others and break-ups could make things very awkward!!

However if you’re still keen to push forward, then follow these 5 steps and make your office romance a successful one:

1) Research the HR policy

Companies will have different stances about office romances. Some will have a black and white legal ‘no go’ policy, while others will allow it. Do your homework first before launching into anything hot and heavy. There’s plenty of romances that can come and go, so educate yourself first and be aware of what you’re stand to lose if you go down this path.

2) Consider possible consequences/ Break-up

It sounds strange, but you’ll need to discuss this early on with your love interest to get clear about all possible outcomes. This is different to other romances. It’s happening in your workplace, surrounded by colleagues, peers and supervisors, and it may have some big consequences to your future career. Talk to them about possible fall out and how you want to handle things if you break up. You’re going to need to be respectful, because the likelihood is you’re going to see them around long after the break-up.

3) Establish clear work rules/ expectations

Having a successful office romance will require you to both have clear rules and expectations. This will involve having an understanding about areas such as flirting, displaying affection and romance in the workplace, discussing your relationship with others, socializing apart with other work colleagues, and sending personal emails and texts. It may also include the use of pet names in the office, spending lunch breaks together/apart, limiting alcohol use at office drinks, and how you both use social media (e.g. facebook, twitter).

4) Argue in private and ignore gossip

Having an office romance is like being in a fish bowl with everyone looking in at you. Everyone will have a take on your relationship. This will mean that it’s vital that you agree not to argue in front of others or get into public personal attacks and put downs. Keep this for private time only. As well, you’ll become a source of gossip for others, so have a plan on how you want to deal with this as a team and do your best not to fuel rumours.

5) Maintain high work standards

One of the most important keys to having a successful office romance is to keep up your work standards. If you continue to function at a very high level, then people have less to focus on and may be more accepting of your new romance. On the other hand, if you start to slack off, make mistakes, come in to work late and look tired and disinterested – people are going to be much less supportive of your new romance.

For more advice and free relationship tips go to www.johnaikenadvice.com