Monday, August 15, 2022

Drawing the line between work and a romp in bed

For an increasing number of people, the workplace is not just limited to PowerPoint presentations, staff and management meetings, planning and strategy.

One major facet of office life today is the social encounters among co-workers, and as recent news reports show, romantic relationships at the work place.

A snap survey among Gaborone residents drew out one thing. Pursuing a romantic relationship in a workplace is tricky. According to those spoken to, when issues concerning the personal relationship spill over into the office, the couple involved may lose sight of their professional objective and create a complicated and inefficient work environment.

“Couples should ask themselves questions such as: How are we going to handle this? Or should we talk to our boss, or the human resources manager and colleagues about us?” said one Gaborone resident, preferring to be identified only as Tshepo.

“Such relationships may have their downside and risks. If you are the target of gossiping co-workers, you end being the black sheep of the office. Other employees may think your next promotion or pay cheque bonus is undeserved, thus raising issues of favouritism.”

Tshepo gave an example of the controversy surrounding the alleged liaison between former Btv boss, Mogomotsi Kaboeamodimo and a subordinate, Gloria Kgosi. “There was no professionalism between the two. A relationship like this can easily undermine one’s credibility with other employees,” he said.
A cross-section of those interviewed said productivity in the workplace is affected when a breeding place for sexual activity arises just because people spend an average of 10 hours with each other in the workplace each day, sometimes even at weekends.

For Ba Isago University College Managing Director, Odirile Gabasiane, and Human Resource Director and Administration, Beauty Tibone, workplace romance is a no-no. They said because many mistakes are prone to take place, it should be discouraged.

“It should be avoided in many instances because it raises eyebrows, creates suspicion and mistrust amongst colleagues in terms of progression and demotion especially if it is between seniors and juniors,” said Gabasiane.

“But we can give the benefit of the doubt to people who are in the same work level, but in different departments. For example, one might be a lecturer and the other in the finance department, but this is provided they are professional, discreet and no personal favours are involved.”

Romantically-entangled co-workers may think they are being discreet, but the entire office may know about the affair, said others spoken to. Even the little gestures workplace couples fashion to communicate with each other can be the subject of much hilarity among co-workers.

Bronia Matshane, the Avis Botswana Customer Service Administration Manager, said she is an immense believer in those who prohibit their bosses from dating their juniors. She said from a Human Resource view point, the alleged liaison between Kaboeamodimo and Kgosi shows the former Btv boss was not leading by example.

Daniel Orufheng, a Gaborone-based professional, brought some interesting views on what he called the desirability and endurance of office romance.

“It has, for courting parties, produced desire, belonging, respect, adventure and best behaviour,” he observed. “For the workplace, it produces enthusiasm, productivity and ‘regarding of the other’, since happy minds and hearts tend to make us service-oriented, people-centered and creates goodwill for the other person’s wellbeing.”

According to Orufheng, an organisation that crafts such “ambivalence” in its work space would easily dominate industry.

“To see and experience this state makes living joyful, economies wealthy, populations wealthy, and bonds between countries water-tight.”

He said it is futile to decree that courtship between people of legal age could be successfully outlawed, discouraged or even punished. “The fact that work or prison or different race happens to be your station is irrelevant,” he insists.

In his sentiments on the issue, Orufheng courts controversy, his words bordering on the sexually explicit. His courtship at work is an important subject that has not been discussed enough in Botswana as much as “guidelines on how to penetrate and be penetrated”.

He said the view that office romance should discouraged is understandable, especially since office romance must be approached delicately and with caution.

“If courtship does not enhance, but burdens and distresses, then something about it is wrong,” he said.

Further, he said since industry is yet to build or sell to the world templates for “falling out of love”, the adventurous leap into workplace romance should be approached carefully.

“The feeling that romance and business do not mix is sourced from the common-place observation that most people who have experimented with it have lost more than they have gained from it,” said Orufheng. “Love and work do not hurt each other. But they do conflict. One must know which time to sacrifice.”

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