Years ago, I walked down a hallway for a client meeting and bumped into the most handsome man I’d ever seen. Somehow I kept walking and met with said clients and didn’t come across as a blithering idiot in heat, and I got the job. I was so excited, not only because I desperately wanted this gig, but also because that meant I’d eventually be introduced to this man-god. Long-story short, I’d bump into Mr. Adonis on and off for a couple of years, and he was always nice but distant with me and later I learnt was batting for the other side.
My heartbreak aside, let’s be honest – with the 40-hour business week becoming a thing of the past, it’s natural for most of the new people we meet to be through work. But before you dive headfirst, let me give you a few tips I learned the hard way:
Photographed by Steven Meisel for Vogue
Golden Rule #1: Know the company policy about dating coworkers
There can be serious conflicts of interest. (Where I worked, there was a very strict one that seniors are not to date juniors without disclosing the fact to HR. If both parties are in a direct supervisor-supervised relationship, one of them would have to be reassigned to someone else, which was usually the more junior party.)
Golden Rule #3: Be careful to not misinterpret someone’s flirty nature
You don’t want to misread a situation and then make a good working relationship filled with awkward silences and avoiding each other.
Golden Rule #3: If you really can’t help yourself, go slowly.
That means don’t get physical immediately. Make sure this relationship has true legs before ending up being the butt of office innuendos around the water cooler.
Golden Rule #4: Of course all love lasts… but in case it doesn’t, be prepared.
Beware the break-up dangers that can ensue. You don’t want drama affecting how productive you are at work.
Golden Rule #5: Even in a best-case scenario, don’t forget that the butterflies will fade
Do you really want to spend all day in the office with your partner, and then go home to them as well? Can you really take orders (or give them) at work and then expect to fight fair at home over the remote control? As much as I love my boyfriend, one of the things I relish about our relationship is reuniting at the end of the day to dish about each other’s work-day experience.
A working holiday might sound like an oxymoron, but there are actually good reasons you might want to sneak in some hours while taking your vacation. A study shows that 47% of people feel less stressed if they don’t completely disconnect from work. Another study found that more than 50% of workers find they’re more productive when they can stay plugged in. Just don’t over do it – holidays are a time to regroup and relax so that you can return to the office refreshed. Peek these tips to help you check-in and check-out at the same time:
1. Before you leave town, remember to add an auto email reply that states you’ll be out of the office for x period of time, and include a contact person if there is an urgent work matter. It will at least slow the number of people who expect you to respond and take the pressure off knowing that in an emergency, someone else will also be contacted to handle the matter.
2. Plan ahead and before you leave, decide which project(s) must be tackled while you’re away and then feel good about leaving everything else waiting until you return. Print out and organize all the info you’ll need for that project so that you can work on it even when you don’t have internet access. It may sound old-school, but you can’t always count on modern technology.
3. Speaking of modern technology, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. You may not always have internet access or it might be really slow. I use a Mifi so that I don’t have to depend on hotel or airport Internet access and I don’t have to worry about security. Also, bring an extra power-strip because often hotel rooms (especially quaint, older B&Bs or reconfigured manors) won’t have enough outlets for you to plug all your technology into.
4. Install a secondary browser on your laptop that doesn’t require quick Internet to load. Strip it of most of your bookmarks, bells and whistles so that you can just boot up and perform basic work tasks like checking your email.
5. You can keep in touch via phone conferences if need be. Just be prepared to find a quiet place ahead of time so you’re not calling in while marimbas play in the background.
6. Similarly, you may offer to attend a virtual meeting via Skype (or similar means). Just remember that you don’t want to log-on to a virtual meeting sitting by the pool in your bikini. So pack something presentable if you think that could occur.
7. Plan-ahead for your downtime. Check your itinerary and look for moments when you’ll have nothing to do. For example, plan on working while you’re on planes or on buses.
8. Set limits as to what you will accomplish. Don’t tackle time-consuming elaborate projects. It’s OK to delegate tasks to a coworker while swinging from a hammock so that when you return, you’re not faced with an overflowing inbox.
9. Set boundaries as to how much time you’ll spend working and during what hours you’ll be working. During the rest of the day, be completely present with your friends/family or just enjoying your holiday. Wake up an hour early to check email (especially if the time difference is in your favor). Or, if you’re in the tropics, consider taking the hottest hours to sit in air-conditioning and work. In my case, as much as my boyfriend will claim that he’ll be go-go-go on vacation, I know that he’ll be taking a siesta mid-day between his beer at lunch. I take that time to work while he’s snoozing.
Look, let’s face it – we all sneak moments while in the office when we check our personal Facebook page, or Pinterest, or order something off Amazon that we suddenly remember we need. So if someone complains that you shouldn’t be working during your time off, just smile and offer to email them a cute cat-photo when you get back to the office and call it even.