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My team has an awkward situation. Two of the team have been caught in various stages of undress in the stairwell and they disappear regularly. Job performance has taken a hit and both parties have assumed a cavalier attitude to the impact that it's making on the rest of the team. Because one of the parties involved is great at customer service (something the boss holds as #1 priority) and the other is the boss's favorite, it is hard to know how to handle it.

We do have an HR department.

This is seriously affecting our team - how can we resolve this tension?

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    Egregious violation of the 'Never put your meat where you make your bread' rule. Ask the manager if he can arrange for one of them to be moved to a different team. The infatuation will be transitory but if they become an item long-term then they will need to work in different teams. – ConcernedOfTunbridgeWells Oct 23 '15 at 11:09
  • My question is, in what way has your team been impacted that affects job performance? You don't say the people romantically involved, one of which is "great" in customer service, have demonstrated poor performance. Without more details, it sounds like your team is overly sensitive and far too concerned with what is not their business in the least. – tjbtech May 5 '17 at 23:46
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If it is affecting your job (not just your attitude about the job), then go to the boss. Tell him how the behaviour is affecting how you do your job: you have to talk to a customer because they are absent and you are unfamiliar with the issues so it takes longer to help the customer, you need their help and are not getting it in a timely manner, or some other concrete way in which you are impacted. Ask the boss how they would like you to handle it.

You don't have to say what they are doing, just that they are not available when you need their help. You don't put them down in any way, nor deal on their behaviour. Your question to the boss is what steps you should take so that you still do a good job under these circumstances. Make it about what you can do -- because ultimately, you're not responsible for your co-workers work, or lack of it.

If it's not affecting your work, just your attitude because of their lack of work, then it's really not your problem to solve. If your boss wants to pay them for substandard work, that is between him and them. Just make sure you're doing good work.

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I love @thursdaysgeek's point about keep the focus on the work.

If you talk to the boss - I absolutely recommend that the discussion center around issues and blockers in your work because your coworker's aren't there to do their jobs in a way that impacts you. In particular, it's good to have metrics for what's going on. Being a crazy spy and checking on their outages down to the minute is a waste of your time. But if you look for a coworker at 2:00 and look every half hour because the issue is urgent and don't find them until 4:30 - it's safe to say they were unavailable for 2.5 hours. Similarly if you write an email an have to wait 3 days for a response. Keep a light weight note of how much and when this is happening - generally it's not a problem when it's rare, it's the frequency of such behavior.

Public demonstrations of affection (PDAs) and/or lewd behavior in the office is another story. If the two are putting on a display of behavior that is better taken up in private in an office environment, it's OK to complain that this is NOT OK. That includes quickie's in the stairwell ("we don't want to see you naked" seems like a fairly safe office rule for most workplaces), and also any really long lingering kisses and heavy petting. The team may have to get over quick pecks on the cheek or hand holding at lunch - but this sounds quite a bit beyond that.

For inappropriate sexual behavior in the office, this falls into the sexual harassment window. The general approach is to take the pair aside and ask them to stop the specifically inappropriate behavior. If they are normal people, the fact that you are blandly stating the problem and asking calmly for a fix may just be enough to embarass them into stopping. If it isn't, take it your manager or HR.

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I think before doing anything else: Have you talked to both (individually) of them? I think something like: Hey, do what you want, but consider for the sake of your reputation and the team performance:

  • don't get undressed where other people see you

  • when you are here, you work, keep your breaks at an acceptable length and inform your co-workers

  • log out for the time when you are absent from work

  • in general, please try to minimize the impact on the team.

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