The other day I ran across an article that spoke about work spouses. I had never heard of that term so I read further. Keep in mind, several weeks ago I wrote about hugging in the workplace, which I indicated I do not do, although apparently that is a “thing” too. As I read more about it, I realized I do not have a work spouse, but thought it might have something to do with my title here.
The closest thing for me is a funny story from about 13 years ago when ASE was planning our first annual Summit at the Ritz Carleton (now called The Henry). For our inaugural event, I needed everything to be perfect. We were picking out table linens, chair covers, appetizers, etc. and as George Brown, ASE’s senior VP, was visibly stressing over the cost of the extravagance the planner kindly asked us, “So when is the big day?” I’m not sure who was more mortified…me or George. We still laugh about it though.
According to a recent survey from Captivate, 70% of business professionals currently have or have had a work spouse. How have I not experienced this? Wikipedia describes work spouses as “a co-worker, usually of the opposite sex, with whom one shares a special relationship, having bonds similar to those of a marriage.” A study by Office Pulse showed that 81% of employees report that they view their work spouse as their go-to person for sharing work concerns. In addition, 58% talk about general personal issues, and a slightly smaller percentage discuss friends and social plans. So basically, it’s that one person at work that you can confide in, both professionally and personally, and that always has your back.
These special work relationships appear to be beneficial in the workplace. According to research by totaljobs, 60% of work spouses say that they look forward to going to work because of them. And even more astonishing to me was that 23% stated they would leave their job if their work spouse left the company. When employers were surveyed 56% said that strong work friendships increase productivity and 70% stated that it’s healthy for staff to have someone to confide in. However, only 24% said it’s appropriate for managers to socialize with junior associates. Running an HR company may have something to do with the fact that I don’t have a work spouse. Thoughts of sexual harassment keep coming to mind for me.
I saw a list of signs recently on CNN.com that you can use to determine if you have a work spouse:
1. You depend on a particular co-worker for office supplies, snacks, and aspirin.
2. There are inside jokes that you and a specific co-worker share.
3. You can be bluntly honest with this person about his or her appearance, hygiene or hair (and vice versa). You're comfortable enough to point out that the other's hair is sticking up.
4. When something eventful happens at work, this co-worker is the first person you seek out for a de-briefing.
5. At breakfast, lunch, and coffee breaks, your closest co-worker knows what to order for you and how you like your coffee (and vice versa).
6. You and your co-worker can finish each other's sentences.
7. Someone in your office knows almost as much about your personal life as your best friend or real-life spouse does.
So, do you have a work spouse? How many of you went through this list and now realize that you do? As always, I love hearing your feedback. Let me know if you have a great story to tell about how a work spouse has benefited you either now or in the past. Although I’m sure many of you remain “single” at work like me. Email me at email@example.com.