NSFW emails and secret snogs in the corridors: RIP, the office romance

NSFW emails and secret snogs in the corridors: RIP, the office romance

The office romance is dead — and it’s got nothing to do with the global pandemic raging around us.

This week, investment giant BlackRock killed the office romance for its 16,000 staff once and for all. Employees were already expected to tell managers if they were shacking up with a fellow BlackRocker but now they’re being forced to disclose any “external partners” which have even the slightest connection to the firm.

The reasoning passes as fair. It started in response to the #MeToo movement which highlighted the sexual harassment that was (is) present in many workplaces across the globe.

The latest rules are an attempt to identify “impropriety, bias, favouritism and/or abuse of authority”. Seems sensible, really.


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But what a crying shame because, now I come to think of it, there is nothing more thrilling than a good old fashioned office romance.

I’ve enjoyed several covert colleague hook-ups over the years (don’t judge). In my case, some were brief, some lasted for months and none blossomed into long-term, fulfilling relationships. But what they all had in common though, was fun. If you’ve even had so much as a drunken snog in a dark corner at the Christmas party, you’ll know what I mean.

Mondays suddenly become the most exciting day of the week, the ping of an email notification from your ill-advised crush sets your heart pounding and secret snogs in the disabled loo (classy, I know) seem more romantic than a table at Clos Maggiore (if that’s what you’re into). No one, it seems, is above the allure of an illicit office romance.

Barack and Michelle Obama met while working at a law firm in Chicago (Getty Images) There are the problematic ones, of course (no one, for one minute, agrees that Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky’s affair was a good idea), but there are the pure ones, too. Barack and Michelle Obama met while working at a law firm in Chicago; Bill and Melinda Gates got together when she was an employee at Microsoft in the Eighties (with Bill famously asking her out in the office car park); and Brangelina went onto have a gazillion children after starring together in a movie (Jennifer Aniston was, of course, less pleased).
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Staff who secretly shack up are doing the rest of us a favour, too. They’re helping to satisfy a human, life-affirming desire that’s deep within all of us: the need for gossip. “Did you see Jack and Sarah sneaking off to Pret again?” we type furiously in Slack; “I heard they got caught shagging in the lift,” we whisper; “I see Sophie and Jason are ‘working late again’,” we email with barely concealed glee. They’re the lifeblood of office life, or at least they were before Covid. Office romance began as soon as women were allowed into the workplace (thanks for that, patriarchy) and will continue long after we’ve all been replaced by robots and algorithms. It will take more than some miserly HR department rules to stop them, they’re just too much fun. More about: | Romance | Dating | WFH | working from home