Written by Ademola Olonilua - Nigeria
When Ikenna and Uloma met at their workplace about a decade ago, they never knew they would end up as husband and wife.
As fate would have it, they soon fell in love with each other and began dating. They were soon confronted with a big challenge; their office frowned on open amorous relationship between members of staff. Yet, their love blossomed everyday and at a point, they agreed to take it further by promising each other marriage.
Knowing the company's policy on two members of staff getting married, Ikenna made sure Uloma secured a job before they got married. Shortly before their marriage, Uloma resigned.
The same cannot be said of Biola and Amiola who are software application developers for an Information and Communication Technology firm. Both are brilliant and were the pride of their company. Some software they developed helped their company become a leading force in the ICT world and it helped their stock rise in the capital market.
Things were beautiful for them until they both became an item. Their relationship blossomed and was leading to marriage until they realised they both had the same genotype, AS. Knowing this would most likely spell doom for them in future as they could have children with sickle cell anaemia, they had to part ways.
Their break-up affected them seriously because they were genuinely in love and it reflected on their work. From being one of the most brilliant minds in the company, they became another number in the company.
Because of the fallouts of their breakup, a policy was made against two members of staff engaging in serious relationship.
Kelvin and Isioma who met at work six years ago got married about three months ago to the astonishment of their colleagues who had no idea that they were dating.
Both were at one time or the other employees of the year and were favourites of virtually everybody at work. Although their company frowned on relationships within the office, because of their dedication to work, it took it upon itself to sponsor their wedding.
Adesoye Joshua, an executive at the Lua Concept Interior Design, believes that an amorous relationship among co-workers reduces the productive output of an organisation. He told Saturday Breeze that he cannot subscribe to such relationships.
"When people are in a relationship, they tend to talk a lot and spend so much time on idle chats at the expense of the company. Especially during the early stage of their relationship, they would want to be together all the time," he said.
The interior decorator said that his company was indifferent to the issue. He told Saturday Breeze that an action by one or both parties could affect the business of the office negatively.
Joshua said, "If either of the spouses is a jealous one, it could spell trouble for the company they work for. A jealous mind cannot work efficiently. Also there is the break-up aspect. It is not all relationships that work out as planned. If they break up, there could be a serious breakdown of productivity from the heartbroken depending on how emotional the person is.
A young lady, Nike Adeniji who worked with an advertising company narrated to Saturday Breeze how she got her fingers burnt because of an office dalliance she got involved in. As someone who cherishes respect, she lamented that she got the exact opposite when she went into a relationship with a fellow worker.
Adeniji said,"I got engaged in an office romance some years back at the advertising firm I worked for. Before, I was indifferent to it because I know some people who met at work and later got married. When the guy approached me, I was reluctant but l later accepted his advances after several rejections. At first, we were very close friends at work till I agreed to be his girlfriend. He was so polite and was always there for me especially when my father died. I think it was one of the reasons I agreed to his advances after seeing how caring he was. But several months into the relationship, I noticed that he began to act differently.
"Even when I invited him out on weekends, he would tell me that we would always see in the office. This was a guy that would be disturbing me from Wednesday for us to hang out on weekends. He also became disrespectful towards me especially in the office regardless of who was around. When I could not take it anymore, I decided to call it quits. He later came back begging but by then, it was too late. I have promised myself I would not be romantically involved with any co-worker anymore; there are other men outside the office space."
The reputation of a lady simply identified as Belinda who used to work for a leading insurance company in Lagos took a dip due to an office romance she got involved in. She was involved in a messy affair between two men.
An employee of the firm told Saturday Breeze that Belinda was having an affair with two men in the company; the Managing Director of the firm and another fellow worker, Franklin.
When Franklin, who had hoped to marry Belinda realised she was dating his boss, he wanted to call it quits but couldn't for fear of what the light-skinned young lady would do to him.
Months later, he met a girl, Nkechi, and a whirlwind romance started. He soon began arrangements to get married to the girl but before then, he told her about Belinda.
"When Franklin met Nkechi, they hit it off almost immediately and they were very compatible with each other. As they were getting serious, he confided in her what was happening in his office between him and Belinda
She told him that before they could get married, he had to call it quits with Belinda and he agreed. But Belinda proved a hard nut as she told Franklin to stop the bad joke. She threatened him to get serious because any attempt for him to dump her would result in his sacking from the company. He knew she was not bluffing so his hands were tied ironically, the managing director was a married man. When things were beginning to become messy and the board of directors heard of what was happening, the MD was sanctioned and Belinda was asked to leave. Franklin is still with us but told us that he would never be involved in such romance in his life."
Franklin is now a senior executive at the firm and is married to Nkechi. They have two children together and nothing has been heard of Belinda ever since.
However, the tale of those who are romantically involved with their colleagues is not always a sad one. Most of those who engaged in such relationships are now married with kids and have happily-ever-after stories to tell.
So is the case of the Olopades who now reside in Canada. Bukie, now a mother, told Saturday Breeze that she met her husband while they both worked in a first generation bank in the 90s. She said that the downside to their amorous relationship was that the company's policy forbade a woman is changing her name even after marriage.
"My husband and I met when we worked for a first generation bank. We dated for some months and we got married. Our company permitted us to get married and still worked together but women are not allowed to change their names to their husbands'. After some months, I opted for transfer but that was solely our decision. If I had wanted to remain in that branch, I would have but we felt it was for the best," she said.
Mrs. Gbamgbose, a worker in the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, said that she met her late husband in the ministry in the early 80s. Now a grandmother, she thanked God for her work as she almost turned down the job when it was offered to her. If she had, she said she probably would never have met her husband whom she believes was destined for her from heaven.
Gbamgbose said, "I met Dada while we were both working in the ministry. He is dead now and I miss him everyday but I thank God he was in my life. I almost rejected the job because I had another offer then. My parents and friends advised me to accept the job and I agreed. Dada was my boss and I was shocked when he made romantic advances towards me. I saw him as an upright man and whenever he brought up the topic, I could see the seriousness in his eyes so I gave him a chance and it was worth it."
The civil servant advised that if one must go into a relationship with a fellow worker, then it must be certain that it would end well for the sake of both parties and the company.
"I do not frown on the idea of being in a romantic relationship with someone in your office. I would only advise that both parties should know what they are doing before they venture into it because it is not easy to sustain such relationships. They have to know that it could lead to marriage and so they should be careful," she said.