Down with the Office Fascists; as Bosses Threaten to Snoop on Workplace Romances, Telephone Calls and Emails

Daily Mail (London), October 6, 2000 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Down with the Office Fascists; as Bosses Threaten to Snoop on Workplace Romances, Telephone Calls and Emails


A FRIEND of mine fell in love with a beautiful redhead who worked in the same office. But he had no idea how she felt about him until he found himself sitting next to her at a company dinner.

As the meal wore on, the redhead disappeared to the bathroom. She returned and pressed something into my pal's hand. It was a sensuous scrap of silk.

For the next several months, the couple conducted a clandestine office romance, until they finally felt ready to tell their colleagues what was going on. A dozen years later, they are happily married with two beautiful children.

Theirs is a story with a cheeky start, and a happy, wholesome ending. But if it happened today, in the ever-worsening climate of rampant Office Fascism, things might be very different.

Romance has no place in today's mean- spirited workplace. Companies such as Marks & Spencer, the Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest - not to mention parts of the Civil Service - are now introducing rules that make office romances a breach of contract and therefore, presumably, a sackable offence.

Some firms even forbid relationships among staff that occur outside office hours, away from the workplace.

As if that were not bad enough, the Government revealed this week that it is planning to grant employers the right to snoop on their workers' telephone calls and emails without having to seek their consent.

What it all adds up to is this.

You can't have a lover at work.

And if you try to call the lover you might have somewhere else, your boss can listen in while you do it.

These are just the latest examples of the ways in which employers are increasingly seeking the right to control every aspect of their workers' lives.

And because we British work the longest hours in Europe, that effectively would mean that the majority of our waking hours would be conducted amid a mood of thought-control that smacks more of a totalitarian state than a supposed free-market economy.

HOW ironic, then, that our own Prime Minister married his wife thanks to an office romance.

For Tony Blair met Cherie Booth when they were both young barristers in Derry Irvine's chambers.

And how odd, too, that the emails which our bosses wish to intercept have almost certainly been created on Microsoft programs. Because its boss Bill Gates was just another lonely, geeky, multibillionaire until he fell in love with his wife Melinda - one of his own employees.

How, I wonder, would Gates have felt if anyone had stuck their noses into his electronic love-letters?

You've got to wonder whether people who make these rules and pass these laws have any concept of the way the rest of us live.

Apparently, office romances have got to be stopped because they disrupt work and create opportunities for sexual harassment that might leave companies open to legal action.

Well, you could look at it that way. Or you could argue that a little bit of romance can sometimes be a bonus for an otherwise committed, dedicated employee.

According to the Industrial Society, half of us meet our partners at work, and I can quite understand why. When, for example, I was the editor of Punch, the magazine may have been devoted to comedy, but the office was one long romance.

My deputy editor went out with one of the secretaries, who had been the publisher's girlfriend.

The art director fell in love with the cartoon editor. People were just doing what came naturally.

The vast majority of the staff were under 30. I was the only married person in the place.

And as my old grandma used to say, courtesy of P.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Down with the Office Fascists; as Bosses Threaten to Snoop on Workplace Romances, Telephone Calls and Emails


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?