Late nights at the office, long work trips, boozy office parties. It’s the perfect recipe for disaster when it comes to coworkers crossing the line and making a move on a colleague.
Roughly 85% of affairs begin in the workplace, with one in five employees confessing to being unfaithful with a colleague, according to a recent survey of 3,800 individuals in the U.K. by online casino RANT Casino. The majority happen in the workplace (25%), with work events (21%), trips away (14%) and meetings outside of work (17%) also listed as places people strayed from their relationships.
“There’s nothing new about affairs in the workplace and if anything, it’s incredibly common,” said Laura O’Brien, spokesperson of RANT Casino. “A place where everyone presents their best selves, take lunches together as well as regular coffee breaks, the workplace undeniably serves as a fertile ground for affairs to blossom.”
But can certain professions be more prone to infidelity? The data says so.
The company compiled a list of the top industries for workplace affairs. Sales executives ranked top, with 14.5% confessing to infidelity. Irregular working hours, long client lunches, dinners and networking events all go hand in hand with sales roles, providing ample opportunities to stray.
“These people are in the same place for X amount of hours five days a week and work closely with each other,” said Kathryn Allen, a licensed professional counselor with Thriveworks, who focuses on relationships. “Maybe you go out for dinner or lunch, so you spend a lot of time with these individuals and that’s where you see those affairs happen.”
Teachers are next most likely to have an affair at work after sales professionals, with 13.7% of respondents claiming this across teaching, training and education in general. Healthcare professionals followed at 12.5%. It drops to 9.8% for transport and logistics and 7.7% for hospitality and events management.
There are professions which are significantly more loyal, according to the survey. Science and pharmaceuticals only had 0.1% confessing to infidelity. Media and internet was at 0.5%, as was law and legal.
From casual office banter to regular coffee breaks, a substantial 25% (408 individuals) have confessed that the infidelity started within the workplace. Communication through texts, phone calls and social media accounted for 21% (352 respondents) while 21% (348 respondents) agreed that the affair flourished at workplace gatherings or events such as the notorious Christmas party where millions of Brits admitted to having made this merry mistake.
“Holiday parties, outings, conferences — they’re being utilized as an escape route for these romantic relationships to thrive,” said Allen. “These holiday parties come around and there’s holiday parties involved, food involved. Those romantic relationships start to look more enhanced and they engage because of convenience.”
Despite strict dating policies from HR departments, workers still don’t let it hold them back. An astonishing 25.5% (605 respondents) admitted to flirting with a colleague, and roughly half that number (15%) owned up to having developed further romantic feelings. Additionally, nearly 13% confessed to having a “work wife” or “work husband” — a trend often joked about on social media.
“Emotional affairs are prevalent according to the survey, suggesting that people are drawn to colleagues who understand the intensity and challenges of their job,” said O’Brien. “Familiarity builds attraction, and the temptation to seek that missing something in their existing relationship can ultimately sow the seeds of an affair.”
At the end of the day though, whether married or not, work should be about work and not regarded as a place to find a relationship. “Being in a romantic relationship with someone at your workplace can have an effect on the work you’re doing,” said Allen. “This workplace affair will take over your mind and thought process rather than the actual work. You want to make sure you understand you’re going to work because it’s a job. People should not look for jobs just because they want to find a partner. Don’t go into a job and be like ‘OK, this is going to be my dating app.’”