Two colleagues in New Zealand were recently left red-cheeked when a late night office romp-athon was witnessed by jeering revellers from a bar across the street.
Needless to say, photographs were taken.
And while it’s probably not a good idea to stage your tryst in front of a pub of punters (unless you’re into that kind of thing), there’s no denying that office romances can be pretty bloody exciting.
And to that end, we've gone and asked a couple of experts that'll help you make it a reality:
Dr Sandra Wheatley
With 20 years' experience as a psychologist, Dr Sandra knows what your mannerisms, clothes and lunchbox say about you. Even if you don't.
Human resources (HR) expert Tara knows so much about the world of employment, she could probably get the Queen fired if she put her mind to it.
FHM's funnyman-at-large. Really enjoys the company of women. Check out danielsloss.com for details of his brilliant nationwide stand-up comedy tour.
Her name lights up your inbox like a minor royal in KFC. What do you do? Reply immediately or slave away at a 'witty' response for the next three hours?
“Keep it simple and light-hearted,” says Dr Wheatley. “Often, when you’re being spontaneous, you reveal more of who you truly are, which is a good thing.”
Daniel adds, “Just don’t be the guy who turns everything into sexual innuendo. I’ve been that guy. The first two times it’s cute. The next 50 times it’s creepy.”
“If emails are sent using the company’s system, then any messages are the company’s intellectual property and can always be accessed by the IT department,” warns Tara. “If the employer gets wind of any inappropriate messages, it could be classed as abuse of the email system.”
What could be worse than that? How about becoming an in-office – or even global – meme? There’s always the risk of someone in IT circulating the messages.
Last year, a Scottish couple’s steamy email exchanges (“You were very wet!”) were leaked after they embarked on a work fling. They went into hiding soon after. As would you.
“When she touches your arm, it might as well be Christmas,” says Daniel. So if it’s happened a couple of times, does this mean it’s on?
Not necessarily. “It might mean nothing – some people emphasise points by touching,” says Dr Wheatley. “Or she might be flirting to get her own way.”
One thing’s for certain – it’s not an open invitation to touch her back. “Girls are allowed to touch guys,” says Daniel. “Not us – we’re horrible, sex-driven things. Never grab a girl’s arse unless she’s your girlfriend. Just don’t. And if she hugs you, don’t smell her hair. I know it’s tempting, because it smells like happiness. But it’s weird.”
“Touch her forearm for emphasis while you’re making a point,” says Dr Wheatley. “The way to do this without being too over the top is to avoid eye contact. That kind of body language is the equivalent of putting something in italics. What you’re looking for is the shoulder melt – their shoulders might come up in surprise at first, but they’ll drop down if they like chatting with you.”
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“An absolute HR minefield,” says Tara. “Remember that one person’s harmless flirting is someone else’s harassment and, legally, the reaction of the recipient trumps the intention of the flirter. This is an easy line to cross inadvertently, so best avoid it altogether – or stick to brief touches in ‘safe’ areas such as arms. Steer clear of bums and waists.”
It was inevitable, really. The object of your attention has become the focus of all the gym-pumped alpha males in your office. “Guys always compete,” says Dr Wheatley.
They don’t love her like you do, though. No one could.
“Displays of dominance are no longer about size,” says Daniel. “What women look for these days is comfort, and that comes from laughter. If some dude starts boasting about how big he is, say, ‘Wow, you do look strong. Like someone shaved a bear and gave it ecstasy.’”
Resist the temptation to fob them all off to hang out exclusively with her. “Your colleagues know you,” says Dr Wheatley. “If you suddenly start acting differently they’ll notice and immediately start ripping the piss out of you. Which is not what you want.”
Daniel advises, “Always buy a round of drinks straight away. It shows you’re a nice guy. Then, because everyone’s polite in Britain, chances are everyone will be buying you drinks for the rest of the night. So you’ll seem popular too.”
On the verge of ’fessing up your feelings? Read this next word very carefully: don’t.
“Never ever mention to a girl you’re not dating how much you like them,” says Daniel. “The second the words leave your mouth, you realise how creepy you sound. ‘Hey, I know this might be slightly weird, but I just wanted to let you know…’ You just wanted to let her know? Why do we always phrase it like that? We’re setting ourselves up to fail.”
So you’ve spent some quality time with your crush. And you now have this nagging feeling she might not actually be the girl of your dreams after all. Don’t worry – it’s normal.
“Offices are like melting pots,” says Dr Wheatley. “You have a lot of shared experiences when you work with someone, so regardless of everything else in your lives, it feels like you have loads in common. You can easily make the classic error of mistaking proximity for closeness. It’s actually very similar to the sexual relationships that develop between inmates in prison.”
“There is risk aplenty here,” warns Tara. “It’s best to be discreet and resist the temptation of the office sex fantasy as the consequences could be far worse than a staple in the bottom. I know one couple who were caught in a compromising position in a store cupboard at work and were both sacked.”
It’s time to break some goddamn ice. No prizes for guessing how to do it.
“If you can make someone laugh you will have their attention,” says Dr Wheatley. “Humour gives you an opportunity to make eye contact because when we’re laughing, we often look right at people.”
But what to say? “Talk about a stupid thing that happened to you that morning,” says Daniel. “Like: ‘I’ll never learn to wash the spoon face down under the tap.’ It invites a response, so she’ll be involved in a conversation with you before she even knows it.”
Every time you find yourself in a one-on-one situation with your workplace crush, she brings up some bloke she insists on referring to as her “boyfriend”.
All hope lost? “Don’t be so sure,” says Dr Wheatley. “She could be playing games. There is a school of thought among some women that says you’ve got to have a man to get a man. When somebody mentions their partner a lot, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not interested in you. It can be a way of demonstrating that they’re not an emotional leper – somebody finds them attractive.”
Photography: Marley Kate
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