Forget flirting at the water cooler, it's X that marks the spot for blossoming workplace affairs.
A survey by a British dating website has found more than half of office romances start with flirting colleagues putting an X at the end of a text or email.
WhatsYourPrice.com polled 1000 of its members on the significance of the letter in workplace communications and found signing off an email with an X was common, but often misconstrued.
The survey revealed 40 per cent of women and 10 per cent of men put Xs in emails to their boss, and a whopping 86 per cent innocently ended emails to colleagues with the kiss symbol.
But although many were perhaps unintentionally suggestive, more than half the respondents who admitted to a workplace affair said it was prompted by an X from a colleague.
A large proportion also reported that their good intentions had been taken the wrong way, with 35 per cent of women and a quarter of men stating they had sent messages that had been misinterpreted as sexual.
Wellington employment lawyer Susan Hornsby-Geluk was shocked by the statistics and said that in most professional contexts using the sign-off would be inappropriate.
Although an X alone would not be enough to warrant a dismissal or even a warning, it could add weight to any other complaints further down the line, as emails often ended up in front of the Employment Relations Authority, she said.
"Everything you write you should be expecting to be presented as evidence at some point and quite frankly you could end up looking like a bit of a dork."
Dating expert Denise Corlett agreed, advising there would be few justifications for including an X to a colleague via text or email.
But she was more positive about workplace relationships in general. Although there could be more complications than in standard relationships, many couples met at work.
Sometimes co-workers shacking up could lead to problems such as other staff feeling uncomfortable, but it was inevitable that attraction would spring up somewhere.
"I tell you what, the thing is [an X] is a subtle signal that has the opportunity to be misunderstood and also suggestive at the same time, so if that's what you want to do it could work - but you would have to be very careful."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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