- The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook and Alphabet’s Google have a policy stating employees can ask out a coworker just once.
- An ambiguous response counts as a “no.”
- No matter where you work, it’s important to know your company’s policy on intra-office dating, and to proceed carefully.
The office has always been a reliable place to meet a partner.
A 2017 Career Builder survey found that as many as 41% of workers have dated a colleague – and that nearly one-third of those relationships ended in marriage.
Yet as sexual-harassment scandals continue to unfold in a range of industries, men and women alike may be justifiably concerned about blurring the lines between their personal and professional lives.
Yoree Koh and Rachel Feintzeig at The Wall Street Journal report that Facebook and Alphabet’s Google have landed on a seemingly sensible approach to modern-day office romance. Employees at the two tech giants are allowed to ask out a coworker just once. If the person turns them down, they do not get to ask again.
“Ambiguous” responses – like “I’m busy,” or “I can’t that night” – count as a “no,” Heidi Swartz, Facebook’s global head of employment law, told The Journal.
Facebook employees don’t have to report the date to human resources, even if one person is more senior than another, The Journal reports. But if there’s a clear conflict of interest and the employees don’t disclose the relationship to human resources, “disciplinary action” will follow.
It’s important to know your company’s policy on intra-office dating before you start a relationship with a coworker
For those of us who don’t work at Facebook or Google, it’s still important to think carefully about making romantic overtures at work. Brittany Wong at HuffPost recommends checking what HR policies your company does have – and following them.
Wong also spoke to experts who advise against asking someone out at work or in a communal area. “Be ready to give the person an easy out if they’re not interested,” one expert told HuffPost.
To be sure, even the clearest HR guidelines can still be interpreted in different ways.
The Journal spoke to Anna Wood, the founder and CEO of Brains Over Blonde who worked at Google for four years. Wood said she’d found herself on “accidental dates,” meaning she thought it was an after-work drink with a co-worker and the co-worker had something more romantic in mind.
Even after a relationship starts at work, certain rules still apply. As Business Insider previously reported, you and your partner should get on the same page about what you’ll do if rumors start to spread – or if you break up.
Consider, too, what you’ll do if things work out: Will one of you leave the company to avoid the relationship interfering with work? As Lynn Taylor previously told Business Insider, if “love happens to strike at work, don’t make a concerted effort to fight it at any cost. Just know the risks.”