No one takes a job with the intention of meeting the love of their life or starting a relationship with an attractive colleague in the office…but it happens all the time. And why not? Thanks to the long-hours and competitive work environment, a number of people spend the bulk of their life at work. Their best chance of finding their future life-partner is within the four walls of the office. Despite how focused, steely and disciplined one may be, we are only flesh and blood; and we are bound to answer when love calls.

The thing though is that while there is nothing particularly wrong with falling in love with, or dating a person who works in the same office as you, it is not as easy as other kinds of romance. Workplace romances can be tricky and awkward – it can add a dash of romance to your daily grind, or it can be lethal to your career. You have to pause and think carefully about how to handle the situation, so that you do not cause yourself more harm than good.

If you are currently crushing on a colleague and planning to make a move, or you are already in a relationship with a colleague, you may want to consider these suggestions on how you can make your office romance work:

Consider your organization’s policy about office relationships
Before you make a move on a colleague, go through your organisation’s handbook and check to see what the policy on office romance is. A number of companies frown against employees being involved in a relationship, as they have concerned about possible sexual harassment claims, civil suits and possible workplace disharmony. However, while some are not flexible and actually have stringent measures they take on defaulters, others have no strict rules against it. Despite how attractive you find the colleague, you do not want to risk your job and/or any disciplinary action. Ensure you play by the rules of your company: if they do not allow office romance, don’t do it…and if they do, carry on, but with caution.

Ensure you alert the HR on relationships
Whether you are required to report a dating relationship to the Human resource department or not, it is important that you let the HR staff in on your relationship once it starts. At the very least, tell your manager. This is so that you protect both yourself and your love interest from legal repercussions and discrimination suits. In the case where you and the person you are dating are in a supervisor-subordinate relationship, and your new lover is in charge of your appraisal, payment or performance review, the HR can help with reshuffling of duties or moving one of you to a different team depending on the company policy, in order avoid friction and resentment among other colleagues. Also, in the case where gossip in the office about your relationship is becoming difficult to manage, the HR will be the best person to help you control the situation.

Be discreet
Yes, you are in love and you want the whole world to see how cute you are…no problem, just save that for the world outside your office. You want to keep your work out of your romance and your romance out of your work. No matter how much the love is “shacking” you, do not move your cubicle so that you can stare into each other’s eyes; avoid talking privately in corners or behind closed doors; do not need to eat lunch together; and… PDA will just be irritating. Keep your work and private lives separate; that way, even when you do break up, there will be no drama or anything. Being affectionate and getting physical at your workplace actually creates an unprofessional atmosphere and can be embarrassing for certain onlookers. Even more, limit the number of colleagues with whom you share confidential information about your relationship with, you don’t want to be the one fueling the gossip.

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