Nairobi News


You could be sharing your husband or boyfriend with an office ‘co-wife’

There’s something soothing about a Valentine’s gift. It’s unlike any other gift. It bears all the affirmation a woman needs to prove to herself and naysayers that her beau is different.

But, as you unwrap your gift in anticipation, praying that it is not another pair of earrings, you need to stop for a minute and ask yourself: Who else did he gift?

According to a recent study by Corporate Staffing, a recruitment and training firm, chances are that your husband or boyfriend will gift his “work wife” as well.

A work wife or work husband is that special colleague (of the opposite sex) with whom you have formed a special bond that defies the basic description of close friendship. You are likely to share more than workplace tasks with your work spouse as your engagements spill over to sharing personal life challenges, office gossip and politics, current affairs and workload challenges.

A work spouse knows you better than anyone else in the office and at times, better than your real life spouse or partner. It’s that person you go to lunches with and other times spend evenings with after work, just to wind down, before heading home. They are your go-to person whenever you have a challenge or gossip to share at work.

Often, work-spouse relationships are platonic, even though casual observers may think otherwise. The results of the study released on February 10 revealed that more than 64.1 per cent of 2,550 participants have had work wives and husbands either currently or in the past. The survey sought to establish the extent of such relationships in workplaces.

While work-spouse relationships are not necessarily romantic, 15.1 per cent of respondents revealed that they were planning to gift their work spouses this Valentine’s Day in appreciation of their special bond while 63.1 per cent of the respondents were planning to send warm Valentines messages. The rest (21.8 per cent) were likely to do nothing for their work spouses on this special day. Interestingly, a majority (61.1 per cent) of the respondents who admitted to being in work-spouse relationships are married, while only 13.8 per cent are in romantic relationships with other people. The rest are either single, divorced or widowed.

Work-spouse relationships have a huge impact on the workplace. Work wives and husbands spend up to nine hours together for five or more days in a week.

“They get jealous when you talk to their ‘spouse colleagues’, so we just avoid them,” said one of the respondents. Issues of possessiveness tend to creep up as work spouses form stronger emotional bonds over time.

The survey also engaged 150 Human Resource professionals and 76.7 per cent admitted to being aware of work spouse relationships in their organisations. All the HR professionals who were aware of such relationships did not support them as they had witnessed a good number of messy fallouts.