By Vivian Giang
Since about a third of our time is spent at the office, it's not surprising that romance can easily spark between colleagues.
At work, you're often surrounded by bright, driven people who understand your work stress and worries at the office, so dating a colleague is actually pretty common, says career coach Barbara Pachter.
"[Work] is where people meet a lot of people. It's either there or online dating," Pachter, author of the book "The Essentials Of Business Etiquette," tells Business Insider.
According to a Payscale office romance report, 15% of the 42,000 respondents said they would date someone they work with. And one out of five people who gave romance with a coworker a shot ended up marrying their colleague.
However, there are some basic rules to keep in mind when dating someone you work with. Below, Pachter tells us the most important do's and don'ts you should follow.
Do follow your company's policy.
Every organization is different. If you're interested in a colleague, make sure you know your company's policy, so that you don't violate any corporate regulations.
You especially need to be aware if you're required to come forward with your relationship. The last thing you want is for a love interest to have a negative impact on your career.
Don't reveal your relationship on social media sites.
"Keep the relationship private. Your coworkers do not need to know the intimate details of your romance," she says. "No posting information or photos about your latest love interest on Facebook or sending tweets about it. You never know who will see them."
Do set rules from the beginning.
This means that you should both have a discussion from the beginning about how to conduct yourselves, what both of you want out of the relationship, and how to handle the situation if the relationship falls apart, says Pachter.
Don't display any physical affection in front of coworkers.
Pachter says there should never be any physical displays of affection when in a professional setting. This includes kissing, hugging, hand-holding, or even staring at each other from across the room. These rules should be followed in the office as well as at social work events, such as parties and happy hours with your coworkers.
Do be professional if it ends.
"Another downside to workplace relationships occurs when a love affair dissolves. You may still have to see or work with the person," says Pachter. "You can't vent your negative feelings in public, even if the person treated you poorly."
"If the relationship fails, be professional and adult about it," she says. In other words, no shouting matches.
Don't date your boss.
Whatever you do, be very careful about pursuing someone higher on the totem pole than you, especially if you directly report to this person.
"Relationships are difficult enough without having your boss or a subordinate as your Valentine," says Pachter. "If you are dating your boss, arrange to report to someone else. If you are the boss, arrange to have your subordinate report to somebody else before you start dating."