Commentary: Office romances – when is it okay to date a colleague?


A famous quote by author Ritu Ghatourey, who is known for her insightful thoughts, goes: “The beauty of love is that you can fall into it with the most unexpected person at the most unexpected time.”

Sometimes, falling in love with a workmate is something unexpected. Even if companies have a no-dating policy, they cannot 100 per cent stop people from falling in love or forming romantic feelings for each other.

But when are office romances acceptable, and when do they start becoming a problem?


Well, it really depends on the culture of the company you work for. In an organisation that is more formal and rules-based, their leaders might prefer less ambiguity and set a clear no-dating policy.

On the other side of the spectrum, a start-up that encourages autonomy and a high-trust culture might keep things more transparent or even encourage workplace romances.

Jessie Chong, who founded alcoholic beverage delivery service Boozeat and exited the business in 2018, believes that it is everyone’s right to enter any romantic relationship. “As long as it’s kept professional in the working environment, and objectives are met,” she was cited as saying in an interview in 2018.

I have also seen organisations actively create opportunities for singles. They encourage their workers to mingle around more often. Why? They know that their employees spend most of their time at work and lack time to socialise outside work. These organisations prefer their employees to have partners internally to keep them in the office.

During Women’s Day in Vietnam last October, one of my business partners held an event where male employees could surprise female employees with a present. I asked him why. He told me it was to drive engagement and retention, especially for the younger generation at work. He trusted them to keep things professional.

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