"COULD you help me with the printer?” I asked, knowing this was my passport to at least five minutes of groundwork with the fittest bloke in the office.
I did need to print something, so it was the universe that led me to Gabriel’s* desk, then to the printer… and eventually to a bar in Shoreditch.
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Thank you, unreliable wireless printers.
At first glance, it might not look like it, but the office is the perfect breeding ground for love: stationery cupboards, kitchens, photocopier nooks – all great for romantic rendezvous.
So rather than feel blue about setting the alarm two hours earlier to nestle into the armpit of a fellow commuter once we return to the office later this year, let’s look forward to the silver lining: it’s the ideal place to hook up.
As we nervously gear up for, ahem, re-entry, as some firms are dubbing it,
it doesn’t surprise me to learn that 75% of us are up for dating a colleague.
And with more than a fifth of Brits meeting their spouse in the office, the past year has cut off a vital way of meeting a partner.**
Pre-pandemic, as a single journalist and presenter, I worked in a lot of offices.
The IT department was my go-to place to find a date and I’d often flirt with geeky blokes who hadn’t yet twigged they were good-looking.
It’s where I met beautiful Brazilian Gabriel in July 2013, when I was 23. Let’s just say, my laptop had a lot of problems whenever he was on shift.
RECIPE FOR ROMANCE
We ended up going for a drink, then home, where we had a fumble, with me reaching for something a little more exciting than a hole punch.
Unfortunately, it was at this precise moment that Gabriel remembered he had a girlfriend and excused himself from the situation.
We spent the rest of 2013 avoiding each other.
Gabriel wasn’t my last office love interest, though.
Yes, the office is a brilliant place to pull, but Covid put an end to it
In 2016, when I worked in promotions for festivals, I often travelled around the country with my boss Simon*.
It was the perfect recipe for romance. We soon stopped using our two allocated hotel rooms and shifted to just one when we started having a (short-lived) fling.
In 2019, I used one newspaper office as an unofficial speed-dating event, eyeing up at least one man from each department.
Credit to their HR, it was an excellent talent pool, and my days went much quicker as I daydreamed about my various crushes.
Yes, the office is a brilliant place to pull, but Covid put an end to it, forcing us to WFH, with the social side of work life and after-work drinks lost.
For a brief spell last summer, singles enjoyed warm cans of cocktails on park dates, as things began to look up.
But in November, the government ordered us back into lockdown, making it hard to date.
I’ve been single since the pandemic hit last March, and found the total reliance on Zoom at work to be a real passion killer.
When I did attempt to flirt with a colleague last year in a meeting, I learned the hard way that a budding tech romance can backfire, after I DMd him and accidentally messaged all 18 people from our meeting.
Then there was the time last April when I spent three weeks obsessing about Gary*, a new guy I’d spotted in a Zoom call.
I’d get palpitations seeing his fuzzy little face in his Zoom box, and concluded he looked just like actor Henry Cavill.
We finally met at a work event when things were temporarily back to normal.
When he turned up, he looked less Henry Cavill and more Henry VIII – and I only twigged it was him when I recognised his voice. I’ve since sworn off Zoom flirtations
Worse still was that socially distanced park date in broad, unflattering daylight while I fought the urge to pee in a bush.
Lockdown stole all the decent bits of being single, from the unpredictability of a night out, to the thrill of a first date and the opportunity to wear Spanx.
Now the end is in sight, get me back to the office, where I can flirt (and wee) in peace.
- *Names have been changed, ** Source is Adzuna.co.uk
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