For many single professionals who spend more time in the office than elsewhere, dating a coworker may seem like the perfect arrangement. You spend so much time working that you don't have a lot of opportunities to meet new people, much less invest in dating them. Plus, your coworker spends nearly as much time working as you - what could go wrong?! The answer: plenty of things. If you are thinking of getting romantically involved with a colleague, you may want to take a step back and think things through.
Does your company even condone office romances?
Many businesses do not allow employees to engage in romantic relationships, and for rational reasons. An office romance can be a distraction for those involved and everyone around them. If a breakup occurs, work will be disrupted regardless of whether or not both people remain with the company. If your human resources department does not allow workplace dating, then don't do it unless you are willing to risk your job.
Speaking of breakups...
If the relationship does not end on the best of terms, it can become very difficult for you and your coworker to deal with each other professionally. If the breakup is very bad, matters could escalate to the point of formal allegations of unwanted romantic advances or harassment. Not only can this damage your reputation, but it may also destroy your career. This drama will also likely not be welcomed by your colleagues because...
Office relationships (and breakups) are disruptive.
The best-case scenario is that the relationship is a success and lasts forever. But even here, you can isolate yourself from the rest of your colleagues just by dating someone in the office. Everyday things that should be very simple, such as a lunch break, inadvertently become opportunities for alienation from your fellow coworkers. You will naturally sit with your partner during lunch or coffee breaks, and your coworkers will logically assume that they can not sit with you and instead decide to give you two lovebirds some privacy. It's like high school all over again, only this time your isolation may cost you a job promotion. The worst-case scenario involves a nasty breakup - now imagine how something of that magnitude will disrupt your coworkers and isolate you from the group!
What will happen if one of you gets promoted?
Look at all the celebrity couples that have broken up when one person becomes more successful than the other. If one of you gets promoted, not only will one of you appear to be more successful, but the other one will be subordinate. It is difficult enough to give criticism to an employee or take criticism from a manager, but from a lover? That's a wholly unpleasant position to find yourself in.
Whatever you decide, look at your company's culture and try not to rock the boat over your latest crush. If you are too busy to get out there and find a date that works with you, there are always matchmakers at the ready willing to help you out.