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Would You Let Your Employer Play Matchmaker?

Canadian accounting firm Freshbooks is getting fresh in the workplace by encouraging blind dates between co-workers. Who needs a mother meddling in your love life when you have a manager?

First, a blizzard update. Our power stayed on (yay!). We spent yesterday alongside our neighbors shoveling more than two feet of snow, and it was nice to see a community-wide effort. Nobody is driving to work today unless they absolutely must, schools are closed, and I'm quickly losing track of time. Today is Monday, right?

I'll get back to today's topic now that I've gained your enduring trust as a professional workplace blogger: dating our coworkers, and with the boss's help and blessing! Surveys show that we like dating our work colleagues even if it doesn't always work out, because who has the time after a long work day to find someone to love? That's a lot of work!

But what if your boss wanted to give you a helpful assist? That's what is happening, apparently, at Canada's Freshbooks. As CBS News reports today:

But the company is now taking workplace satisfaction to a whole new level, setting up "blind dates" for its employees, reports CBS News correspondent DeMarco Morgan.

"I like to meet everyone that shows up. And as the company grew, I noticed that more and more people just didn't know each other's names anymore, which, for me, I thought that was crazy cause I love this really tight-knit community that we built at FreshBooks, and I wanted to keep that up," said manager Mary Grace Antonio.

The company launched its own version of The Dating Game last summer by asking for employee volunteers who would be willing to be set up on a date with a co-worker. The goal was to get employees from different departments -- who may not otherwise interact -- to do the "it's just coffee" thing.

If you're wondering, the "program" allows senior managers to be matched with non-management level employees. No commitment, no pressure, no spreadsheets. Yet. Some of us like to move slowly.

Founder and CEO Mike McDerment sees the company's intra-office matchmaking program as encouraging innovation -- and it's fun! "Two Freshbookers went on a blind date and actually they're both in charge of hiring people, so they ended up discussing a lot of different methods that they use to asses talent," he says.

Talking shop and company strategy on a blind date? It sounds a lot like...another boring status update meeting. I mean, you'd have to work hard to keep the conversation from veering into work-related topics. He looks so cute as he accesses the cloud to find last month's hiring numbers!

And what if your supervisor has a really good feeling about this match, but you don't feel the same way? Would we really want to have the following interaction with our supervisor?

Here's the report. I made the changes. By the way, I enjoyed being set up on the blind date, but I don't think it's going to work out. We're in very different places in life, and he chews with his mouth open. That's a deal breaker for me, sorry. We did come up with some new logistics strategies I'd like to run by you in the afternoon meeting, though. I'll see you there!

With a younger, social media-enabled generation taking over the workplace, perhaps it simply makes sense that they would start changing the way we date to bring it all out into the open, at work, between co-workers?

Matchmaking at work also eliminates some dreaded, burning questions -- namely, where do you work and what kind of work do you do? -- because we already know the answers! This way, the co-workers on the blind date can talk about other things, like how much they're contributing to the company 401(k) plan, and whether or not they're participating in the new wellness initiative.

Overall, Freshbooks has an innovative approach to finding love for those who spend all their quality time at work. In Canada.

Would this workplace matchmaking idea work here in the States, though? Hmm. I'll leave that to our employment lawyers.


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