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Guest Thinkers

L’Amour à la Workplace

I am busy packing up here on the eastern coast of Canada to get ready to spend next year in the sex and love capital of the world – Paris, France. I won’t be working in France (unless you consider sitting in a cafe, drinking red wine and writing a book working), but it appears that if I was working in an office, it just might be the perfect place for me to find l’amour.

According to a poll conducted in France last month titled “Amour et Vie Professionnelle”  51% of men and 49% of women responded yes to the question  “In general, would you say that the work environment is conducive to flirting and finding love?”.  The number of positive responses to this question is increasing in age – older workers agreed more frequently to this statement than did younger workers. 

While these numbers aren’t that high, the survey found that many of those surveyed had had a sexual relationship with either a co-worker or a client or supplier in the past. While a woman is far more likely to have had a sexual relationship with a co-worker than a man (28% instead of 23%), men were far more likely to have had a sexual relationship with a client or supplier than a woman (10% instead of 4%).

So while about 31% of men and women have had sexual relationships with people they met in the workplace they seem to be making different partner choices.

Again, older workers seem to have more liberal experiences, with 35% of workers in the 35 to 49 age range having sex with someone they met at work, and managers appear to have work-related sexual relationships more frequently (34%) than non-managerial workers (31%).The vast majority of these relationships have not lasted, especially for older workers. For workers who are over 50, 77% of those sexual relationships have ended. Younger people appear to have had more luck with 58% of people in the 18-24 age group reporting that they are still in their relationship. But perhaps that is just because they have been in the workplace such a short period of time the relationships are still new.

Just in case you think that there is a general social acceptance of sexual relationships in the workplace in France, that probably isn’t true. Six percent of those surveyed report that one or the other of the sexual partners had to leave their job because of the relationship, 22% report that they had to hide their relationship from their co-workers and only 17% have been open about their relationship.

Despite the need for discretion, the vast majority report that sexual relationships in the workplace have increased their productivity with 41% reporting that it had a positive effect on efficiency and 14% reporting that it had a very positive effect. Only 9 % felt that it had a somewhat negative effect and 5% said a very negative effect. On the flip side, 23% in general (and 29% of workers under the age of 24) reported that work life was putting a damper on their sex life. Bummer.

At one point in time I had a French roommate who was visiting the university for six months. He had no trouble finding love in his workplace here despite having a wife at home. One interesting point about this survey is that the respondents were never asked about their marital status. Is it my North American sensibility that makes me think this would have been a good question to ask?


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