Have you ever worked in the same company as your significant other? Think about it. Could you work alongside your husband/wife/other half? My wife Nikki and I met at a community radio station in Brisbane in 1992. I was one of two paid staff and Nikki was a volunteer. In my diary that first day I wrote: “With me tonight were two trainees including Nikki, est. 17/18, blonde, short, shy and VERY CUTE!” And you know what? I can still see that straw hat she was wearing!
Several months later, I summoned the nerve
to ask her out. I remember the phone call:
“Would you do me the honour of accompanying
me to the opening night of Joseph and His
Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat? How dorky.
You’d have thought I was asking her to marry me!
Anyway, she said yes – eventually I confessed
that the tickets were freebies – and we’ve been
together ever since.
Back then we were young and it sure was
fun having your girlfriend with you at work. The
stories I could tell. And yes, whatever you’re
imagining right now, it probably did happen at
that radio station when everyone else had gone
Fast-forward to 2013 and Nikki has just started
working at 612 ABC Brisbane, producing Tim Cox
3 to 6pm weekdays.
Now, I don’t want you to think I’m at all
anxious about the distraction of my beautiful
wife as I glance up from my computer screen, but
there must be pros and cons.
For example, do colleagues expect you to
share the same view on company decisions,
rather than seeing you as two different people?
And then, if you don’t agree in the workplace,
how does that play out at home?
I’d love you to email me with what you know,
what you’ve seen and what you’ve learned.
A former radio producer of mine, Majella
Marsden, says it’s a minefield for co-workers.
“What about where one partner has knowledge of
events that may impact on the other?”
Social commentator Brett Debritz says it can
make colleagues feel uncomfortable, especially
if one of the couple is in a more senior position.
Just ask ambo Bob Hartley: “We had some issues
as my wife was in a subordinate position to me
for a while. We had to use the drive home as a
I.F. and R.B. ran a company together for two
years. I.F. says they would never do it again: “Too
much arguing over business decisions which
led to resentment at home. The best thing we
ever did was sell the company. We have a better
marriage for it".
For Daniel John, it meant the end of the
relationship: “It was the worst mistake ever.
Constant bickering all the time. It was a contract
cleaning job at a factory. We worked right on top
of each other. We were partners before and not
But there are success stories too. Real estate
agent Brett Andreassen has made it work for the
last three years. His tip: “Don’t take work home
and don’t bring home issues to work".
Kallee Buchanan and her husband Ross
work for the ABC in Central Queensland. Kallee
says it’s okay to take work home: “It’s great having
someone who gets the passion for the job. But
you need to have your own time, away from work
Nataasha Torzsa and her partner work for a
telco. They’ve devised three rules: “Don’t discuss
personal things during work hours, act like
friends at work drinks etc., and don’t discuss 'us'
with other workmates”.
But the most surprising story I’ve heard so far
comes from admin manager Brendan Taggart:
“I used to work in the same department as my
partner. The only issue was travelling to work
together. He was always late. He was SO slow in
the mornings, it was legendary. I hate being late.
So I got my own car. Problem solved!” That is one
Coincidently, you may have noticed the new
series of Survivor (Thursdays on GEM) sees loved
ones pitted against each other - uncle against
niece, brother against brother, husband against
wife. I can tell you Nikki and I were both relieved
to see all the married couples survived the first
tribal council! A good omen perhaps.