Two of my coworkers are in a romantic relationship and live together. Our company allows this and they’ve always managed to keep their romance out of the workplace. Unfortunately, as we return to the office after working from home for the past several months of the pandemic, their romance seems to be bleeding into their work space. They argue about things in full view of their coworkers, discuss personal topics for hours each day, and generally make the rest of us feel uncomfortable. I know several people have approached Human Resources but it has not seemed to have an effect. Since I am a close friend of the woman in the relationship, my coworkers have asked me to step in and talk to the couple. I am afraid this will blow up in my face and I will lose a good friend.
Dear Apprehensive Associate,
I cannot adequately express to you how much I have missed receiving messages about odd coworkers during the global pandemic. Not only are they the bread and butter of the advice column world, they empower the humans around them to feel vastly superior in their own normality.
These coworkers are the messy showstopper we all secretly love to watch.
At some point though, the messy showstopper becomes tedious and that’s where I step in to help. You say that the office is just returning to work after months of working from home. I imagine this is a difficult transition for everyone, especially those who have lived and worked together from home. There was absolutely no barrier between the two worlds of work and play. I think the great George Costanza summed it up best in Seinfeld –
Anybody knows, you gotta keep your worlds apart!Tweet
Your friends are clearly unable to do this right now, but that doesn’t mean you have to intervene. Other coworkers have gone to Human Resources and I presume there has been a meeting between the parties involved. The situation is being handled in the most appropriate manner. The only thing your approaching the couple will do is add gasoline to the fire. Imagine approaching the couple as a personal friend to lecture them about their work life.
This is not good. Worlds are colliding!
I think the best policy at this point is to gently redirect your coworkers, all of them, when they get distracted from the tasks at hand. Ask them to do the same when you get off track. I would bet my week of kibble that everyone in the workplace has been distracted by personal things in their short return to office life. People become accustomed to the freedom of limited oversight and chafe when the reins are reapplied. It will take time for everyone to remember how to interact with their fellow humans, but I’m confident you will get there.
After all, it’s not like you can move to Mars… yet.
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