4 Singaporean couples share what it's like to work in the same company

PHOTO: CLEO Singapore

As the saying goes: Don't sh*t where you eat. Basically, don't have a romantic relationship with someone from your office-and it's not hard to understand the adage. When you work with the person you're dating, there might be a lot more things to argue over with professional conflicts of interest in the mix. And if you guys break up, seeing them every day still sure can get awkward, if not painful.

But office romances happen, and while it might not have worked for Tom and Summer in 500 Days of Summer, these four Singaporean couples are able to juggle a romantic and working relationship with the same person. If anything, they demonstrate that a workplace romance can not only thrive, but also serve as a booster for your career if you manage it right.

As the saying goes: Don't sh*t where you eat. Basically, don't have a romantic relationship with someone from your office-and it's not hard to understand the adage. When you work with the person you're dating, there might be a lot more things to argue over with professional conflicts of interest in the mix. And if you guys break up, seeing them every day still sure can get awkward, if not painful.

But office romances happen, and while it might not have worked for Tom and Summer in 500 Days of Summer, these four Singaporean couples are able to juggle a romantic and working relationship with the same person. If anything, they demonstrate that a workplace romance can not only thrive, but also serve as a booster for your career if you manage it right.

Yi Wei (22) and Kai Wei (25)

PHOTO: CLEO Singapore

Company: Kindermusik with Love Studios

Job positions: The both of them are administrators

How long they've been together: Two years

Cringe at public proclamations of love or PDA on the MRT train? Yiwei and Kai Wei are with you on this. But even for this private couple, being open about their relationship at work is not only a conscious choice, but also a way for them to learn to stay professional.

"We informed our supervisor about our relationship and she just told us not to let it get in the way of work," says Yi Wei. "But even if we weren't told, we are self-conscious and watch our behaviour."

She adds that working together provides them with an avenue to deal with their own relationship issues in an objective manner.

"When things get heated behind closed doors, the workplace setting forces us to interact with the other person for work, which opens up communication and puts whatever we're upset about into perspective."

For Kai Wei, the only drawback of this dynamic is the fear of seeing too much of each other, but Yi Wei says this is something they easily resolve by giving each other enough space and me-time. They are however also candid enough to admit that they can't always keep things 100 per cent professional at work.

"I don't feel that it's possible to be 100 per cent professional — only a Sith believes in absolutes. But I think it's about learning to navigate conflicts together and establishing boundaries," he says.

Charis (25) and Nicholas (26)

PHOTO: CLEO Singapore

Company: Procter & Gamble Company

Job positions: Nicholas is a Category Supply Manager and Charis is an Assistant Brand Manager

How long they've been together: Over a year

Charis and Nicholas find being in a relationship with someone you work with comforting.

"It makes things a lot easier for us to understand each other when we share our perspectives at work," says Charis, who appreciates how her partner truly gets what she does.

"And after a long day at work, if we need a hug to feel better, the other person is just a five-minute walk away," adds Nicholas.

Having met in university, the couple made a conscious decision to join the same company. Surprised that their company was OK with workplace romance? It's apparently quite a common thing now. Nicholas says: "t's so common that HR had to draft out a guideline for dual-career families."

The couple shares that working together also means making a conscious effort to draw the line between their work and personal lives, and that if you do choose to join the same company as your your partner, working in different departments like they do can help establish that boundary.

Zhi Qi (27) and Kang Sheng (31)

PHOTO: CLEO Singapore

Job Positions: Freelance filmmakers

How long they've been together: Four years

For this newly-wedded couple, working together is actually code for career progression, particularly since for Kang Sheng, Zhi Qi is his biggest critic and motivator.

"I depend on her to be a voice [of reason] for me," he says. He shares that she often provides refreshing insight on his work and helps him see things differently.

Likewise, Zhi Qi gets inspired from working with someone as passionate about film as she is. She shares that working together has made the filming process more authentic and intimate, as was the case for their recent film Siblings which will be submitted to the National Youth Film Award.

They're however quick to admit that things aren't always a bed of roses, especially since, in working from home together a lot, they "literally face each other 24/7 and inevitably talk about work 24/7". Also, familiarity and comfort can breed unintentional contempt.

"Just because someone is close to you and spends a lot of time with you doesn't mean that they are able to read your mind," adds Kang Sheng. The couple emphasise that communication is key in this sort of dynamic and advise those in similar relationships to be tactful.

Recia Annabelle (23) and Shao Lun (22)

PHOTO: CLEO Singapore

Company: AIA Group

Job positions: Financial advisors

How long they've been together: Almost a year

Recia and Shao Lun are of the opinion that their dynamic doesn't really matter as long as they handle things maturely and are able to separate work and the relationship.

The couple add that because work can be mentally draining and demoralising, it helps that they can bounce off ideas with each other.

"It's very nice to have someone who totally understands what you're going through. Also, having the same work trips is a plus," explains Recia.

However, the one challenge they face in working together is competitiveness. In a cut-throat industry where numbers and figures define value, competition can sometimes take a toll on the relationship.

"Of course it's healthy competition, but it's also a bit tough to constantly compare and try to keep up with each other," she says. She adds that while things can sometimes get a little personal, knowing how to draw boundaries helps.

This article was first published in CLEO Singapore