You’ve seen them – two people who spend most of their working hours together, behaving like a married couple. The only difference is the relationship is strictly non-romantic. Essentially, a work spouse is someone at the office (usually of the opposite sex) in which you have a strong platonic relationship with similar to that of a marriage – that’s why they are also referred to as office husband or office wife.
Like a real spouse, a work spouse plays the same role, only in office context – they are loyal, trustworthy, supportive, and have your back no matter what at work.
Having a work spouse can bring a lot of positives. In fact, a study has shown that a work spouse can actually increase your productivity at work. Aside from the emotional support, the right work spouse can complement your skill set and the two of you can make a good team to work together seamlessly and achieve more for the company. Plus, having a confidant who understands your working style as well as can relate to your work stress? Bonus.
The downside though? One being the obvious jealousy issue that might come up in your real-life relationship. If this is a serious issue, having a work spouse could make things very uncomfortable between you and your real-life partner, even leading down the road of a break-up (and all the nasties before and after).
One way to resolve this? Let your work spouse meet the real spouse. Just like how your mum wanted to know who you were hanging out with in school, it’s important that your spouse knows who you’re hanging out with at work.
Another possible hazard to a work spouse? If things go sour between the two of you, it can have a negative impact on the whole working team who may be forced to take sides – just like when a real relationship ends!
Also, your relationship with your work spouse may cause unnecessary gossip, leading to speculations that if misconstrued could potentially damage your career. Worst if your work spouse is a senior and colleagues claim you’re getting special treatment.
We spend more time with our colleagues than our own friends and family due to the fact that we are confined with them in the office for 40 hours a week. Which is why it is perfectly understood how having a work spouse can help make your working life more tolerable and also more productive.
But it is still best to treat your work spouse with some tact and professionalism. Don’t exclude other colleagues in your working life; treat everyone else equal so there won’t be any tongues wagging about your work spouse relationship. Limit non-work related activities with your work spouse; you need to draw a line between what’s work and what’s personal. When you’re off from work, keep communication with your work spouse to a minimum.
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