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Love on the company clock
58% of employees have dated coworkers, 23% admit to trysts in the office, elevator, restroom, oh my.
February 11, 2005: 7:12 AM EST
By Sarah Max, CNN/Money senior writer
Marshall Simmonds met his wife, Tabatha his second day on the job.
Marshall Simmonds met his wife, Tabatha his second day on the job.
Company love
by the numbers  
Involved with a coworker 58% 
Involved with the boss 14% 
Involved with a subordinate 19% 
Indulged in trysts in the office 23% 
Found longterm love 22% 
 Source:  Vault, Inc.

SALEM, Ore. (CNN/Money) - The glow of fluorescent lights, the smell of microwave popcorn, the boss nagging about a deadline. Isn't it romantic?

Evidently, yes.

According to a survey of employees released last week by career publisher Vault, office romance is more common than you might guess. Some 58 percent of respondents said they have been involved with a coworker and 22 percent of respondents said they met their spouse or significant other at work.

"The lines between personal life and work life are more blurred than they used to be," said Hussam Hamadeh, co-president of Vault, a company of about 50 people that has seen its own share of office romance in its eight-year history. "There have been a couple of marriages [among Vault employees], and I think it's fantastic."

Marshall Simmonds fell in love his wife, Tabatha, his second day on the job at About.com.

"She was the director of public relations, and I was the director of search," he recalled dreamily. "The CEO of the company asked me to go talk to her for a press release she was writing about me joining the company."

He walked into the PR department, saw his future bride and was smitten. "I talked about everything but the press release because I didn't want the meeting to end," said Simmonds. The meeting did eventually end, but the relationship went on, quietly.

"We were always very professional," said Simmonds, noting that the couple had a no-touching policy at work. "We would stop holding hands within about a two-block radius of the building."

Still, word gets out.

"At the Christmas party the second year into our relationship the CEO walked up to us and said, 'It's OK, you guys have done a good job and you don't have to hide anymore,'" said Simmonds. "Then he sent out a company-wide memo saying dating in the office was not recommended."

The majority of employers don't have stated policies about dating in the office, according to Vault, or if there are such policies only 17 percent of respondents said they're aware of it. Even then, the rule is primarily to prevent managers from courting their subordinates.

But as more Americans spend more time at work, the office seemed to be one of the few options for singles to court their potential mates, according to another recent study.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray, and Christmas said the number of employed singled had risen more than 18 percent to 58,948,000 in the last decade, and they are spending more time working, cutting the chances of meeting people elsewhere.

"It is no wonder that workplace dating is taking off, with more than 28 million young people, some of whom spend more time together in the office than they do outside of work. Employers almost have no choice but to permit interoffice dating," CEO John Challenger said in a statement.

Still, not everyone thinks it's a good idea to find love on the company clock, rules or no rules. According to a survey by Monster Worldwide last year, 35 percent of U.S. employees said that office romance shouldn't be permitted because it leads to too many problems.

"As someone who's made the mistake of dating people I work with a few too many times, here's the deal: If you don't care about the job, go for it," said Mike, who asked that we identify him by his first name only. "If your job is your profession, however, your chosen career, where you want to excel and reach the top, don't do it. You lose credibility and respect when you date people at work."

Dating around is one thing, but what if you think your office mate might be your soul mate?

"Keep it discreet at first because a lot of romances don't last," said Hamadeh. "But if it gets serious we recommend being honest."

Just don't get too comfortable mixing business with, er, pleasure.

According to Vault, 23 percent of respondents admitted to "trysts" in their offices, the restroom, conference room, stairwell, elevator, and even the boss' office.  Top of page

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