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Work Spouse Survey

A Report Presented by Captivate Network
November 2010

Executive Summary
The Captivate Network Office Pulse Work Spouse Survey shows that nearly two-thirds of workers (65%) have or have had a “work spouse” – someone at work whom they communicate with and confide in at the workplace. The survey shows that increasingly, the lines between one’s work and one’s personal life are becoming blurred, with work spouses serving as confidants on extremely personal issues and wielding considerable influence over each other’s decisions and purchases.

The role of the work spouse

  • Though respondents generally keep interaction with their work spouse confined to the office (55% talk to their work spouse a few times a day in the workplace), a sizeable number continually communicate with their work spouse throughout the day. 21% talk, instant message (IM) and email their work spouse constantly during the workday, and 24% engage in this level of communication with their work spouse even on weekends and weeknights.
  • Work spouse relationships can be either opposite-sex or same-sex relationships, with 55% of respondents reporting they have had a same-sex work spouse.
  • It many cases, people are looking for qualities in their work spouse different from the qualities in their real spouse or significant other. While 38% said their work spouses are similar in personality to their real spouses or significant others, 52% said they were complete opposites in personality. Only 8% said their work spouses and real spouses or significant others were similar in appearance, while 57% said they were complete opposites in this regard.
  • Nearly one-third (33%) of respondents indicated that their work spouse’s appearance is important to them.
  • While respondents predictably discussed work issues with their work spouse (93% discussed work in general, 87% talked about co-workers and 58% discussed salary), they also delved into much more personal issues with them. 63% discussed health issues with their work spouse, 59% confided in their work spouse about at-home problems and 35% discussed their sex life with their work spouse.
  • Most respondents have respected boundaries in interactions with their work spouse. However, 13% of those surveyed said they had a personal interaction with their work spouse that they later regretted. 8% of respondents “crossed the line” with their work spouse, while another 9% said they were uncertain if they crossed the line.

The differences in the work spouse relationship among segments

  • While there were few differences along gender lines of those who have had a work spouse, there was a sizeable difference among those who have had a same-sex work spouse. 67% of married women say they’ve had a same-sex work spouse, while only 34% of married men report having had one.
  • Men place more importance on their work spouse’s appearance with 40% of men and just 22% of women say their work spouse’s appearance is important to them.
  • Looking at respondents’ relationship status, 65% of married people have had a work spouse, while 67% of unmarried people in a long-term relationship and 59% of single people have had one.
  • Are married people hiding their work spouse more? Or are they just not mentioning them at the dinner table? Twenty two percent of married people say their real spouse does not know about their work spouse. It is more often men than women who keep their work spouse to themselves with 32% of men reporting their real spouse does not know about their work spouse while only 18% of women say the same.

Work spouses influence buying decisions

  • When it comes to purchasing goods or services, 67% of respondents say their work spouse has influenced a buying decision. 78% of those surveyed said their work spouse influenced their choice of restaurants, 56% said their work spouse influenced a technology purchase and 47% said their work spouse influenced buying clothing.
  • For some categories, work spouses had even more influence on purchasing decisions than real spouses or significant others did. For example, 58% of survey respondents said their work spouse had greater influence over jewelry purchases and 60% over book purchases.
  • Work spouses also had more influence over technology and clothing decisions, with 52% saying their work spouse had greater influence over technology purchases and 56% saying their work spouse had more influence over buying clothing.

Conclusion
The workplace spouse has become an important fixture in the modern workplace. They serve as trusted colleagues, reliable sounding boards and valued friends. The nature of the workplace spouse relationships is not a fixed thing: it varies based on gender, marital status and role within an organization. The work place spouse is also important in the influence they exercise over their partner. From simple decisions such as where to eat or what movies to see to more important decisions around technology purchases, vacation spots or gifts for real spouses workplace spouses have a measurable impact on the decision-making process.

Additional Resources
A video of “on-the-street” interviews around the Office Pulse Work Spouse survey can be viewed on YouTube. Captivate Office Pulse can be followed on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

Methodology
The research used to develop this study was based on the responses to an online blind panel in July, 2010 by 640 people in 14 major metropolitan centers in the US
and Canada. Captivate commissioned MarketTools, the leader in software and services for Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) and Market Research to build and manage panelists across Captivate’s Footprint of 1,000+ class A office buildings. The panel, consisting of over 3,500 white-collar professionals, is the source for workplace behavior and advertising communications measurement for dozens of Fortune 500 companies and their agency partners.

About The Captivate Office Pulse
The Captivate Office Pulse is the source for accurate and unbiased information about the state of the business environment. From what’s in to what’s out, what matters, who’s influencing whom, and more the Office Pulse provides a much needed glimpse into the inner workings of the workplace. Designed to offer an empirical glimpse into the white-collar work place the Captivate Office Pulse will help a variety of audiences make better business decisions.

About Captivate
Captivate Network is a digital programming and advertising network that informs and entertains business professionals and working consumers, enlivens office buildings and gives traditional (print, broadcast, online) ad campaigns more impact. The company’s integrated network of elevator and lobby screens, web sites and live events reaches a spend-ready audience in a powerful, uninterrupted way.