The office Christmas party is an ideal way to put away the stresses of work and enjoy some time with your colleagues in a friendly, non-pressurised environment. However, if you’re thinking of taking things one step further and hooking up with a co-worker that you’ve had your eye on, it’s probably best to be prepared.

A recent study by Business Insider found that over 50% of 1,500 surveyed readers have had a ‘romantic encounter’ with someone in their workplace. So, if you’re having these feelings, you’re clearly not alone. But what should you know before venturing into that territory?

Be Safe

In the heat of the moment at the office party after a few glasses of your favourite tipple, it’s easy to forget things like condoms, but if you’re intending on taking a co-worker home with you or even having a fumble in the office, it pays to think of these things beforehand.

Not only does it mean you’re spending less time rummaging around and risking ruining the moment, but it avoids any uncomfortable conversations the next time you’re at work about unsafe sex and the risks of STDs and pregnancy.

Make Sure You Have Something in Common

It’s easy to think you have something in common with a colleague simply because you work with them. A mutual hatred of another employee or a shared love of salads over your lunch break may seem like you’ve got some great things to talk about, but sometimes that couldn’t be further from the truth.

If you’re thinking about moving onto the next step, try to initiate conversations about something other than work. A shared love or shared loathing of your workplace is a cracking way to build the foundations of something more, but it’s not necessarily going to enable you to maintain a relationship.

The same applies if you’re just looking for a quick rendezvous; there’s nothing worse than returning to work the following week and realising you’ve made a massive mistake because your comrade has no qualities that are of interest to you.

Don’t Let It Interfere with Work

It’s all well and good hooking up with that co-worker you’ve had your eye on for a while, but work is work, and that means any fraternising should be kept entirely out of office hours. After all, your employer isn’t paying you to date, so don’t spend time messaging each other across the office when you should be doing your daily duties.

By all means, enjoy a lunch together and discuss your mutual plans for the evening, but don’t drag other co-workers into your private discussions; that’s the last thing anyone wants, and it could lead to some awkward office gossip.

Be Discreet

It’s natural for us to seek intimacy, so no-one is going to blame you for wanting the odd casual hook-up. But dating a colleague is a very different beast and requires much more discretion to not only maintain your dignity, but to ensure that the feelings of others around you don’t get hurt too.

If you work closely with the person you’re courting, prepare yourself for every eventuality. If the relationship goes south, how will you maintain your professionalism? If things get serious, do you need to have a talk with your seniors? These are all points to consider if you’re falling for someone in the workplace.

Perhaps most importantly, be aware of people’s feelings if you decide to date other colleagues. If you’ve moved on from a past relationship and decided to hook-up with a fellow employee, how will your previous lover react?

Maintain Your Friendships

One of the most exciting parts of starting a new relationship is seeing that person you’ve been coveting for so long become a best friend. However, the desire to get closer to a particular person can cause you to lose touch with other colleagues you’ve struck up genuine friendships with. For the sake of both your sanities, it’s best not to do this.

It’s simple; do your own thing from time-to-time. See your friends at lunch or even organise a night out with your neglected colleagues. You know the saying, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, and you’ll have more to talk to your lover about as a consequence of this. On top of this, should something go wrong with your new relationship, you’ll still have allies if things turn south and friends are the best way of keeping it together after a messy break-up.

Tackling a relationship and a busy working schedule is no easy feat and adding a fellow employee into the mix is sure to make things a little more complicated. However, if you try to follow these simple steps, they should help you maintain a professional standing in the office if you find yourself having feelings for a fellow co-worker.

In the heat of the moment at the office party after a few glasses of your favourite tipple, it's easy to forget things like condoms, but if you're intending on taking a co-worker home with you or even having a fumble in the office, it pays to think of these things beforehand..

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