Future of Work

Asking out a coworker on a date is okay. But only once

asking-out-a-coworker-flowers

Employees at Facebook and Google are only able to ask out a coworker once. Image: REUTERS/David Gray

Shana Lebowitz
Strategy Reporter, Business Insider
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Future of Work?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Future of Work is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Future of Work

The office has always been a reliable place to meet a partner. However there are rules on asking out a coworker on a date.

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.

Rules for asking a coworker out

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 a coworker out 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 asking out a coworker and 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 about asking out a coworker 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.

Have you read?

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."

Loading...
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Future of WorkEducation
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Green job vacancies are on the rise – but workers with green skills are in short supply

Andrea Willige

February 29, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum