Home Archives February 2008 Loosening the reins on work romance

Loosening the reins on work romance

| Print |  Email
Friday, February 01, 2008

HeartPencil.jpg

When Halle Reese Smith, a senior writer and project manager at Xerox, started dating one of her co-workers in another state, she tried to keep their relationship on the down low, confiding only in her closest colleagues. She did such a good job over the course of two years, that when Smith eventually asked for vacation time to get married — to the Xerox employee — her boss learned about the inter-office relationship for the first time.

In hindsight, Smith sees the covertness as unnecessary. “I was being overly sensitive,” she says. “I wanted everyone to view us as professional people.” But these days, for a generation less accustomed to compartmentalizing work and personal lives, office romances have stopped serving as fodder for sexual harassment lawsuits and become more of an accepted reality in many workplaces.

“You have a lot in common with your co-workers,” Smith explains. “You’re in the same industry and speak the same lingo. Work can be conducive to building relationships, both friendships and romantic.”

Even so, employees should still approach inter-office romances with a healthy dose of skepticism and caution, says Lisa Kinsley, general manager of human resources at Portland-based McMenamins. While the Northwest pub and hotel chain doesn’t have an anti-fraternization policy on the books, employees are told that job performance should never become compromised by personal relationships, no matter what.

“We’re not going to regulate or create a policy on the birds and the bees,” Kinsley says, “but we’re going to insist that you’re professional. If you can’t be professional and make good decisions in the workplace, you will be held accountable.”

While many companies have relaxed their standards and rarely prohibit certain types of relationships, most still specifically ban supervisor-supervisee dating. Kinsley says that to her knowledge, no McMenamins employees have entered into such a relationship, but she thinks that any supervisor dating a subordinate would be taking a serious risk. Xerox distinctly prohibits supervisors from dating their subordinates, Smith says, but colleagues working at the same level are free to date each other.

These days, Smith faces a new challenge, the result of a successful office romance. Her husband now counts as one of the 2,000 employees in the Wilsonville Xerox office. “It’s almost like we work at two different companies,” she says. “Sometimes we commute separately, with other co-workers, and I won’t see him all day. So it’s not hard to be married to a co-worker.”


LUCY BURNINGHAM


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

Why I became an educator

News
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
03.04.14 thumbnail teachBY DEBRA RINGOLD | GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

How can we strengthen the performance of institutions charged with teaching what Francis Fukuyama calls the social virtues (reciprocity, moral obligation, duty toward community, and trust) necessary for successful markets and democracy itself?


Read more...

What I'm reading: Brad Smith & Travis Boersma

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Brad Smith, founder of Hot Pepper Studios, and Travis Boersma, president of Dutch Bros. Coffee, share their recent reads.


Read more...

The 2014 List: The Top 33 Small Companies to Work, For in Oregon

March 2014
Thursday, February 27, 2014

100best14logoWebOur 100 Best Companies project turned 21 this year, so pop open the Champagne. Our latest survey gives us plenty to cheer.

 


Read more...

Wheel man

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Les Schwab has put a premium on customer service since 1952, when legendary namesake Les Schwab founded the company with one store in Prineville. (Schwab died in 2007.) But if the corporate principles remain essentially the same, the world around this iconic Oregon business has changed dramatically.


Read more...

Tech makes the world go round

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, March 20, 2014
03.20.14 thumb internetBY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER

I don’t think anyone can (or should) remember what it was like to get things done without the internet. This milestone in technology has certainly benefited brick-and-mortar companies and subsequently launched a new era of businesses.


Read more...

Powerlist: Meeting perspectives

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

BY BRANDON SAWYER

A conversation about the event-planning industry with sales directors from McMenamins and the Portland Art Museum. 


Read more...

Branching out

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
DSC04185BY LINDA BAKER

A blueberry bush is a blueberry bush — except when it’s a blueberry tree.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS