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Originally published Sunday, July 17, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Carol Kleiman

Having an "office spouse" can bring love, lust — and headaches

Married on the job: There's someone you're very close to at work. Someone of the opposite sex. There's a lot of sexual energy in the air...

Syndicated columnist

Married on the job: There's someone you're very close to at work.

Someone of the opposite sex.

There's a lot of sexual energy in the air, but no sex is involved. You're buddies. You tell each other everything. You depend on each other.

You are as close asthis.

"Welcome to what we might call the 'office spouse' phenomenon," said Tina Louise Chadwick, a contributing editor to Worthwhile magazine.

She's the author of an article in its May issue titled, "Till 5 p.m. do us part."

"Office spouses are colleagues who must spend most of their workday together so that they seem married. Their relationships are often filled with the same kind of electrical charge that marriages sometimes lose. They are intimate in an intellectual way and beyond."

While it's a relief to have an emotional outlet for the stress that accumulates during the long hours you spend at the office, Chadwick, who is a vice president of advertising at WestWayne in Atlanta, warns that "office spouse relationships can bring love, lust — and lots of headaches."

She describes them as "near trysts," which can lead to more complications than you ever dreamed of — especially if you're married.

And especially if one of the "spouses" is the boss.

Diverse diversity: Women and minorities rarely have a chance for promotion unless their companies have a diversity program that is enforced — and rewards top management for complying with it.

That's why the good news is that 59 percent of 530 senior executives polled by the Association of Executive Search Consultants, based in New York, report that, yes, their companies have an official "diversity in the workplace" policy.

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The not-so-good news is that 34 percent said their firms had no diversity programs at all.

But the one result that really worries me is this: Seven percent had no idea if their companies had a program or not. And they're the managers, the ones who are responsible for making diversity happen.

Fun is fun: "Between 2001-03 the American workplace reached unprecedented levels of productivity, but at a price: People weren't having any fun," according to Leigh Branham, author of "The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave: How to recognize the subtle signs and act before it's too late" (Amacom, $24.95).

Branham says that "studies have actually shown that workplaces with higher 'fun quotients' have lower health-care costs, higher productivity and improved morale."

E-mail questions to Carol Kleiman at ckleiman@tribune.com. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

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