Emailing to love?

For anyone who has ever held a job (e.g., mostly everyone reading), it should come as no surprise that workplace romances are common. In fact, I have spent my career studying workplace romance. I have summarized this work in previous entries:

1. Disclosing workplace romance:…

2. Workplace romance motives:…

3. How employees view colleagues dating at work:…

In our latest study, Renee Cowan (@DrReneeCowan) and I examined the role of information and communication technology (ICT) in establishing, maintaining, and terminating workplace romance.

Through our data collection and analysis, we found that ICTs were used as a main tool to reduce uncertainty and learn about potential romantic partners. Following the formation of a workplace romance, ICTs were used to maintain the relationship, even at work, while also being mindful of professionalism. Through the initiation and maintenance stage, questions of privacy and whether to disclose the relationship emerged. As most romantic relationships fail, ICTs were also seen in the dissolution phase of the relationship. Technology use was interesting here because the use of technology signaled an impending breakup, and was often used as the tool to terminate the relationship (ouch).

The previous paragraph is a very brief summary of the results of our latest work, and we invite you to read the complete study for a thorough explanation of findings (link to study:

Collectively, then, organizations should be aware of how employees might use organizational ICTs for their own romantic communication. Equally, workplace romance participants should be mindful of boundaries between work and life.

Dr. Sean M. Horan is a Communication professor. Follow him on Twitter @TheRealDrSean. His expertise is communication across relationships, with topics including deception, affection, workplace romance, sexual risk/safety, attraction, deceptive affection, and initial impressions. His work/commentary has appeared on CNN, ABC, Fox, The Wall Street Journal, and more.


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