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办公室恋情 不再是秘密-酷悠

For Office Romance, The Secret’s Out-cuyoo

发布者:admin 时间:2020-02-19 13:12点击:
Like a growing number of young couples, Nathan Shaw and Maiko Sato met at the office, in a Cisco Systems training program for new recruits. They dated openly as fellow employees for a couple of years.

And when Mr. Shaw was looking for a novel way to propose marriage, he picked the office as the setting. He engaged his boss as a co-conspirator. During a date with Ms. Sato one evening, his boss phoned Mr. Shaw on the pretext of asking him to stop by the office to test some teleconferencing gear.

As Ms. Sato gamely tried to help with the 'test,' Mr. Shaw guided her to the engagement ring he had hidden, then flipped a flashing slide onto her teleconferencing screen: 'Say yes!' After a moment of stunned silence, she did. The two married in 2008 and remain happily co-employed at Cisco's San Jose, Calif., campus.

Office romance is coming out of the closet. More than any other time during my 19 years of writing this column, the workplace has become a place for courtship. Some 67% of employees say they see no need to hide their office relationships, up from 54% in 2005, says a CareerBuilder survey of 5,231 employees released Tuesday.

In the past, 'the Baby Boomers kept office romance secret' amid fears of career damage or reprisal, says Helaine Olen, co-author with Stephanie Losee of 'Office Mate,' a book on the topic. Now, amid growing openness about sexuality and greater equality between the sexes, she says, singles 'are saying, 'Why is anybody even bothering to keep this secret at all?''

That doesn't mean all the old rules have changed. Affairs when one or both partners are married are still taboo. Nor is it OK to snuggle up behind the copier with your latest crush. Employers still expect even the most out-there workplace couples to behave professionally.

Dating your boss or subordinate is generally out of bounds, too. Court rulings in recent years have broadened employers' exposure to sexual-harassment lawsuits, making this a more sensitive issue. A growing minority of employers have written policies requiring employees to disclose any romantic relationships to a superior and allowing the employer to separate the partners at work, says Manesh Rath, a Washington, D.C., employment lawyer.

Beyond that, though, employers realize that trying to stamp out office romance is like standing in front of a speeding train. 'The office keeps coming up as No. 1' in surveys as the best place to meet a mate, leading bosses to conclude that they 'have to be cool about it,' says Janet Lever, a professor of sociology at California State University, Los Angeles, and a longtime researcher on office romance.

To Stacie Taylor, who has been dating a co-worker for 3 1/2 years, finding a significant other at the office seems logical. 'People spend so much of their time working that it's unavoidable,' says Ms. Taylor, 37, a professional development coordinator at Zoot Enterprises, a Bozeman, Mont., technical-services provider. Her boyfriend, Cary Costello, 29, a project manager, adds, 'If you're around a bunch of like-minded people who have similar interests, it's bound to happen.'

But office romances can have a negative spillover effect on co-workers. At Slingshot, a Dallas interactive-advertising agency, one pair of co-workers who started dating were equals on the job and behaved appropriately in the office, says Owen Hannay, chief executive. Nevertheless, when they started going out to lunch with each other every day, co-workers on their seven-person team 'felt excluded, and it created a lot of negativity.' The daters have left the company, Mr. Hannay says.

Other couples take great pains to prevent fallout from their romance. Shortly after Erica Toth and Brian Carnevale started dating, colleagues in their open, 18-person office figured it out. But the couple bent over backward to keep their relationship from affecting others at the Rochester, N.Y., office of Text 100, a technology public-relations firm. They asked to be assigned to different projects, says Mr. Carnevale, 31, an account director.

When new employees joined the firm, Ms. Toth, 28, an account manager, would tell them about their dating relationship, she says, adding, 'if for some reason you are concerned, let your manager know.' And if she slipped up and called Mr. Carnevale 'Honey' over lunch, he quickly corrected her. The couple also limit their conversation based on, 'what would my co-workers want to hear?' Ms. Toth (now Ms. Carnevale) says. After dating for three years as co-workers, they married and are now expecting their first child.

Some employers, especially those with a lot of young workers, are taking a more neutral stance on office romance. Cisco's dating policy, for example, 'does not encourage or discourage consensual relationships in the workplace.' Relationships between supervisors and subordinates, however, are 'frowned upon' and may result in a transfer or reassignment, the policy says.

This leaves young couples who are peers to navigate the office fishbowl on their own. When co-workers Michelle Walters and Ryan Scholz started dating, Mr. Scholz, a production manager for GMR Marketing, New Berlin, Wis., tried at first to act in meetings as if their relationship didn't exist. But he has since relaxed and become more casual about it, and both have gotten used to kidding from co-workers, says Ms. Walters, a project manager.

GMR Chief Executive Gary Reynolds says the event-marketing company doesn't have a written dating policy because its 500 employees handle it fine without one. He says, 'Why try to mandate behavior and develop policy when you don't need it?'

The biggest pitfall of office romance may be its potential for messy breakups; 67% of 493 employers surveyed in 2006 by the Society for Human Resource Management cited as a significant problem the possibility of retaliation by spurned or disappointed lovers, up from 12% in 2001.

The best vaccination against a bad ending is 'a long corporate courtship,' says GMR's Mr. Scholz. He adds, 'Keep it light and fun at first,' getting to know each other at lunch or group outings, a strategy that enabled him and Ms. Walters to learn a lot about each other before they started dating. Then if it doesn't work out, 'you have basically just broken up with your lunch buddy.'

Indeed, many young office daters are taking things slowly -- reverting to painstaking relationship-building because they know their livelihoods are at risk. 'People have this notion that these relationships are scuzzy meetings in the supply closet, or Christmas-party affairs. In fact, it's just the opposite,' the author Ms. Olen says. 'The office has become the last bastion of old-fashioned courting.'

Jonathan Wolf met Emily Gudeman online when they were co-workers in different offices at a San Mateo, Calif., Internet-marketing concern, collaborating on a software product. They got to know each other through instant-messaging, phone calls and photos. Ms. Gudeman says Mr. Wolf gave her good advice on dealing with co-workers, and 'he was really, really funny' on instant messages. After four months of remote communication, says Mr. Wolf, now a product manager for Bazaarvoice, Austin, Tex., 'I had this virtual crush on this girl.'

After meeting -- and mindful of the risks of office romance -- they took several months to get acquainted before they started dating. 'We had a true courting, where we had to sit on the front porch and just talk to each other' online and by phone, says Ms. Gudeman. Eventually she transferred to his office, where the pair worked side-by-side for another year. Although both have since moved on to separate new employers, their five-year relationship is still going strong.

Sue Shellenbarger

越来越多的年轻夫妇一样,内森•肖尔(Nathan Shaw)和佐藤麻衣子(Maiko Sato)也是在办公室相识的,他们初次相遇在思科系统(Cisco System)为新员工举行的培训项目中。随后,他们便当着其他同事的面公开约会了好几年。




与斯蒂芬妮•洛塞(Stephanie Losee)合写了《办公室恋情》一书的作者克拉斯基• ]Helaine Olen)表示,过去,婴儿潮一代总是对办公室恋情讳莫如深,担心这会损害他们的职业前途或者招致报复。奥伦女士表示,如今,由于人们对性的态度越来越开放,两性之间越来越平等,单生男女都在想,“谁还会刻意把这种事情当作秘密来保守啊?”


与上司或者下属约会通常也不被允许。根据近年来的法庭裁决,雇主遭遇性骚扰的诉讼日益增多,也使上下级的办公室恋情成为一个更加敏感的话题。哥伦比亚特区的雇佣律师马耐什•拉思(Manesh Rath)表示,虽然还在少数,但是越来越多的雇主已经制定了书面政策,要求员工披露与上级主管的任何恋情,允许雇主分开共事的合伙人。

不过,除此之外,雇主也意识到禁止办公室恋情就像在阻止一辆高速的列车。洛杉矶的加州州立大学(California State University)社会学教授、也是长期研究办公室恋情问题的专家詹尼特•利弗(Janet Lever)表示,办公室一直是各种调查中相遇另一半的最佳场所,这促使雇主得出结论,他们必须对此事保持冷静。

对于一直约会同事长达三年半的斯塔兹•泰勒(Stacie Taylor)来说,在办公室找到合适的另一半似乎是合情合理的。作为蒙大拿州Bozeman的技术服务提供商Zoot Enterprises的职业发展协调员,今年37岁的泰勒女士说,人们每天在工作中的时间这么长,办公室恋情是无法避免的。泰勒女士的男朋友、29岁的项目经理卡里•科斯特洛(Cary Costello)补充说,如果你周围都是一些想法相似、兴趣相同的朋友,办公室恋情是最自然不过的了。

但是,办公室恋情对其他同事可能有不利的溢出效应。达拉斯互动广告机构Slingshot的首席执行长欧文•汉内(Owen Hannay)表示,一对开始约会的同事属于平级,在办公室举止稳重。然而,当两人隔三差五便约着共进午餐的时候,他们所在的那个七人团队的其他同事“感到自己完全被排除在外了,而这给整个团队带来了很多负面的影响。” 汉内先生说,约会的那对情侣已经离开了公司。

其它情侣则想尽办法阻止他们的恋情影响到其他人。就在纽约州罗切斯特技术公关公司Text 100的埃里卡•托特(Erica Toth)和布莱恩•卡尼维尔(Brian Carnevale)开始约会后不久,他们18人的团队就发现了。但是这对情侣极力避免自己的恋情影响到他们办公室的其他同事。31岁的会计主管卡尼维尔先生表示,两人要求被分配到不同的项目。



这样的政策使处于同级的年轻情侣只能自己随机应变。当威斯康星州新柏林GMR Marketing的同事的米歇尔•沃尔特斯(Michelle Walters)和瑞安•肖尔茨(Ryan Scholz) 开始约会的时候,制作经理肖尔茨先生开始试图在工作会议中当作两人毫无关系来对待。但是,项目经理沃尔特斯女士说,自那以后他便更加放松,也更加随便,两人已经习惯于其他同事的玩笑。

GMR的首席执行长加里•雷诺兹(Gary Reynolds)表示,这家公共活动市场营销公司并没有一个成文的约会政策,原因是即便没有这样的政策,其500名员工自己对办公室恋情也已经处理得很好了。 雷诺兹先生说,“为什么要在人们不需要的时候,试着强制个人行为,制定政策呢?

办公室恋情的最大缺陷在于它可能导致混乱的分手。人力资源管理协会(Society of Human Resource Management)在2006年对于493家雇主的调查显示,67%的雇主认为被拒绝或者感到失望的情侣报复的可能性是一个非常严重的问题,这个比例较2001年增加12%。GMR的肖尔茨先生表示,避免糟糕分手结局的最佳良药就是“一段长期的公司恋情”。他还说,开始的时候保持轻松和有趣,接着通过午餐或者小组出游互相认识彼此,这正是让他和沃尔特斯女士能够在开始约会之前就互相熟悉对方的策略。接着,如果关系无法开展下去,“你充其量也就是和午餐的伙伴分道扬镳而已。”

确实,许多年轻的办公室情侣都在试着慢工出细活,转向费时费力地发展长期关系,原因是他们都知道自己的生计面临风险。上述《办公室恋情》一书的作者奥伦女士说,大家都认为办公室恋情是在衣柜里衣冠不整的相会,或是圣诞节派对的短暂情事。实际上,恰恰相反。 “办公室已经成为老式求爱的最后堡垒。”

虽然身处加州一家互联网市场营销公司的不同办事处,乔纳森•沃尔夫(Jonathan Wolf)与埃米莉•古德曼(Emily Gudeman)因合作一个软件产品而在网上相识了。他们通过即时讯息、电话和照片互相认识。古德曼女士说,沃尔夫先生给了她很好的怎么与同事相处的建议,而且“他在即时讯息上真的真的非常有趣”。现为得克萨斯州奥斯汀Bazaarvoice的经理的沃尔夫先生说,在四个月的远程沟通后,“我对这个女孩有了意思。”

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