Most of us spend the bulk of our weeks working, so it’s not uncommon that some of us end up spending more time with coworkers than with our own friends and family. Considering the fact that the amount of time Americans spend at their workplaces is only getting longer, and less and less of us are taking advantage of our paid time off, the bonds we build at work are quite strong — and beneficial, new research says.
Despite stigmas surrounding workplace romances, more than half of American professionals have gotten romantic with a coworker, according to research conducted by Insurance Quotes, which 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. While some of these relationships they found have been brief, 16 percent actually met their spouses while on the job. And, perhaps more interesting, despite the idea that office romances can be distracting (especially if they don’t pan out as intended) people in workplace relationships were happier, more productive and even more likely to be comfortable with their current rate of pay than those not dating or involved with coworkers. Those coupled up were even less fearful of job insecurity than singles in the office.
Why? Well, previous research has shown that pretty much nothing in life makes us happier than being in love, so it makes sense that a successful relationship can be more fulfilling than a successful career for some people.
A study done at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found potential benefits to office romances. “Many participants expressed their pleasure in going to work when they were in a workplace romance,” the authors wrote in “Workplace Romances: Going to Work Is Amazing and Really Fun,” which was published in the International Journal of Psychological Studies. “One participant said the relationship energized him to work even harder and another said this euphoria motivated her to work more.”
April Masini, author of the relationship advice column, Ask April, also agrees that office romances can boost productivity. “As in any new, romantic couple each person will try to please and impress the other to win them over,” she says. “And when the couple has work as a connection, each person will try to be seen as better at their job as a way to impress their partner. That’s why a little flirting, a little romance and a little office intrigue that keeps people interested in work beyond the product, can absolutely be a good thing.”
The results of the Insurance Quotes research found that the service industry prevails when it comes to workplace romances, followed by the finance and insurance industries. Meanwhile, technology industry employees are the most accepting of office dating.
That’s perhaps because finding a healthy balance in the hospitality, finance and insurance industries can be especially difficult due to long (and usually unconventional) hours, fast-paced environments and occasionally high turnover rates. According to the Americans surveyed in the study, the majority of people in the hotel, food services and hospitality industry, for example, were currently in workplace relationships.
Previous research supports these claims, too. We already know that the most common way for office romances to begin is working in the same department (36 percent) or in nearby offices or cubicles (28 percent), according to Vault's 2017 Office Romance Survey. To follow are happy hours and office parties (26 percent) and working on the same project (21 percent). Thirty-four percent of business professionals believe that social media platforms and productivity tools like Facebook and Slack have made it easier for colleagues to pursue romantic interests in one another. In fact, 46 percent even believe that those tools have made it easier to hide such relationships because they don’t have to rely on their philandering being relegated to work emails, in-office encounters or happy hours.
Most people don’t necessarily need to hide their relationships though; instead, they generally seem pretty open to the idea of dating a coworker, according to Insurance Quotes. Nearly a quarter of Americans surveyed not dating someone at work still felt the odds were better when trying to woo a coworker over someone outside the office, and almost 37 percent of people dating a coworker at the time of the survey agreed.
Read the full survey here.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.