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Are People Still Having Sex at Work? An Investigation

As with so many transgressions in life, the better the thrill, the bigger the risk

Sex times are tough these days, and ironically so. We live in such a sexed-up, hornified world that you can practically Seamless some sex, talk to your mom about anal and openly marry a hologram, yet the young people are having less actual sex than ever. Add to this an era of general anxiety about consent and appropriate sexual contact, and increasing awareness of fraught workplace power dynamics, and sneaking off to get it on while pressed up against the photocopier seems about as retrograde as, well, having a photocopier. So we had to ask: Do people still fuck at work?

It’s a go-to fantasy for a lot of people, who can look at a fluorescent-lit cubicle hellscape and instead envision a screwball comedy filled with quippy sexual tension that turns into a blazing hot quickie in a huddle room. But in spite of the fact that lots of people do fantasize about sex at work (a recent survey found that 56 percent women do, and 61 percent of men), and say they’d do it if only Debbie in accounting would give them the signal, some signs point to no on the actual doing it.

There are an increasing number of offices that are banning the sort of holiday parties where booze is involved. That’s good for quelling sexual harassment, but bad for perfectly consensual office hookups, too. A number of men have admitted that they feel uncomfortable mentoring women at work, but extra uncomfortable even being alone with them. (It’s hard to have even consensual sex at work with someone via a conference call.) Men and women are dialing it back on socializing outside of work too in light of the current mood, which also means fewer odds of interoffice romance, much less casual sex on the clock.

If you Google it, you’ll also find a number of cringe-inducing tales of people getting caught having sex at work, and it’s enough to put you off it forever. People boning at work after hours, filmed without their knowledge because they failed to close the blinds at work. The boss unaware the conference call video is still one while he bangs his underling on the table. Two department store workers having sex in the back office, filmed by teenage boys (!) who of course broadcast the video far and wide. Sidesplittingly funny, unless of course it’s you in the video.

And yet, surveys claim it’s still happening. A recent such poll earlier this year from sex toy company EdenFantasys found that 14 percent — or more than one in 10 — of 2,000 people surveyed said they’d had sex at work. (About one in 10 had actually had sex with the boss.) But no one indicated in the survey how recently the office sex had occurred, meaning its unclear if these are glory days memories or recent accounts.

Last year, a survey of 1,000 people by Australian gadget company Yellow Octopus found that 11 percent of respondents said they’d had some sort of sexual activity at work with a coworker, while 4 percent said they’d had sex at work with a non-employee. Among women who responded, 82 percent said it was intercourse, compared with 67 percent of men. Some 42 percent of women engaged in oral sex, compared with 62 percent of men.

For 72 percent of the people who did something sexual at work, it was after hours. Another 36 percent did so during the work day. The real shocker? Some 17 percent got to work early enough to do so before the place even opened up. Again, we still don’t know from any of these results how recent these occurrences are.

Reddit compiles stories of office sex from time to time. One last year solicited scores of stories about past work sex:

  • “Got drunk at a bar with my boss whom I had been crushing on for a year, feeling was mutual. Asked him to go back to work and had wild sex on the conference room table. Meetings in the room were a lot of fun after that.”
  • “Fucked a girl I worked with in a meeting room after hours. The cleaning lady walked in on us. I’m now married to her. The girl not the cleaning lady.”
  • “Almost got caught in the act the first time. I had to answer the office door with my shirt off. The management had questions the next day (they didn’t direct it at me, was a general ‘who uses the office out of hours?’ type thing) — but I had a perfectly plausible excuse as I often rode my bike and changed in the office (behind closed doors).”
  • “I used to frequently get blow jobs in the washroom in the Cancer Center at the hospital I work at. It was great. She was married. It was all very taboo and exciting. Now it just gives me trust issues in women who work in the hospital and make me feel ashamed.”
  • “I used to work as a masseur. on my last day I inited my girlfriend and told her to pretend like a patient. I called her in, talked to her like a professional and banged her on the massage table.”

When I put the question out on Twitter, I got only a few responses. One guy said it’s way too risky:

Another said yes, without elaboration:

Another guy told me privately that he and his wife had begun with an office hookup that included sex in their offices. The key: They had their own private offices with locking doors, and they snuck off during companywide meetings where they’d be less likely to be missed.

Even still, he admitted it was dumb, and I asked him if he was worried about getting caught. “Oh, of course,” he said. “That’s part of what made it hot.”

But that was way back in 2009.

But one thing he said struck me as a likely universal element in most of the tales of office sex. “Only young (new) relationships carry that kind of ‘oh-my-god-I-need-you-now-damn-the-consequences’ kind of sex,” he wrote.

That makes sense, because office sex is the sort of thing you’d need to be discreet about, given that the consequences for being found out can be particularly dire. In the EdenFantasys survey from early 2018, about 20 percent of workplace sex-havers said they’d been caught, and one out of five had lost their job over it.

Most of the anecdotal stories I’ve heard about office sex involve much younger people in lax environments, or workplace affairs that suffer from fewer location options for doing the deed. Sex diaries bear this out: The intern fucking her married boss on the down-low. The 36-year-old receptionist who has sex in an office corridor with her boss. The 30-year-old mommy blogger doing it on an office tabletop.

It’s not that people in open, socially acceptable relationships don’t want to get a naughty thrill from sex in illegal or frowned-up places. It’s just that most of the time they can actually go somewhere else. The affair turns everyone into a teenager on a first date — fucking in cars, sneaking around into alleyways and turning every moderately private location into a bedroom.

That said, there are upsides to an in-office fling that anyone can get behind. About 92 percent of office fuckers said they were way more enthusiastic about showing up to work when they had prohibited sex on the day’s calendar, and more than half said it increased their productivity, probably so they could make sure they had free time to fuck.

But as with so many transgressions in life, the better the thrill, the bigger the risk.

There ought to be a way to still participate in the time-honored tradition of covert office sex without the guilt, shame or job loss, provided you’re dodging all the landmines: It’s enthusiastic consent, there’s no weird power-imbalance issues, and you’re putting the thought and care of a secret agent into your strategy for not getting caught.

To that end, last year a survey provided insight into where people most prefer to do it at work. I have to side with men here, who most preferred the locking door of the storage room to conduct their business. Women preferred a conference room (probably because it at least as a usable surface), their office (part of the fantasy likely also involves simply having their own office in the first place) and, bewilderingly, the elevator.

No offense, women, but that is totally bananas. But hey, this is mostly a fantasy, right?