Most bosses discourage intra-office dating, and for good reason. Office romances can get messy, especially if they lead to break-ups, and cause tensions within the workplace to soar.
But according to this accounting company, dating in the office is an excellent bonding experience for staff.
With a growing workforce of over 250, Toronto-based cloud accounting software company Freshbooks started setting up “blind dates” for its employees last summer so staff can get to know one another, CBS News reports.
“As the company grew, I noticed that more and more people just didn’t know each other’s names anymore, which, for me, I thought that was crazy cause I love this really tight-knit community that we built at FreshBooks, and I wanted to keep that up,” said manager Mary Grace Antonio who joined the company eight years ago.
This triggered Antonio to play matchmaker. She began the process by asking for volunteers and then grouped them together before sending them on lunch or coffee dates.
The program matches groups of 2-4 colleges s randomly, sometimes it’s same-gendered groups, other times gender is equally distributed.
“There’s people from all different departments that sign up, even executives sign up for these blind dates,” Antonio said. “Then I try and mix and match people who wouldn’t usually be working together.”
The blind dates are intended to help create a more collaborative workplace and allow employees to get to know each other as people, not just roles.
Company co-founder and CEO Mike McDerment said the programme is well-suited to a work culture centered on fun and innovation.
“We believe culture is strategy and having people connect with folks they don’t necessarily work with actually helps build the ties that keep the organization strong and keeps information and ideas flowing,” McDerment said.
Meeting people from different departments can present an opportunity for collaboration that would never have happened in the course of the normal business day.
Although it hasn’t happened yet, Antonio says the opportunity is there for staff to stumble upon great ideas from other fields of work that could be applied to their own area, or come up with new project ideas to collaborate on.
In a follow-up survey, 65% of FreshBooks blind daters said they felt a meaningful connection to their date.