When he and Bergen were in graduate school together, he recalls, people referred to them as work spouses. “I knew why they were saying that and it rubbed me the wrong way. Because she has a spouse and it’s not me.”
“I definitely have an office husband,” wrote one respondent from the 2014 Vault Office Romance Survey. “He's my regular lunch buddy, confidant, and sounding board. Fortunately, I’ve also become good friends with his actual wife!”
While McBride says that in general these relationships can be good for companies because of their improving effects on employee happiness, productivity and loyalty, it can also make other employees jealous and lead to charges of favouritism, especially if the relationship is between colleagues at different levels.
And there’s another downside too: the possibility of work spouse divorces. As one person wrote in Vault’s 2015 Office Romance Survey: “My work wife just took a new job, and I am so miserable. In need of new work wife.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct Ben Friberg's job title. He is a photographer, not a producer as originally stated.
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