YOU enter the office in the morning to be greeted by a female whose make-up could have been applied while on a 57 bus which has gone over one too many potholes. Meanwhile, her hair is as much a stranger to a brush as Rees-Mogg is to human compassion. And the outfit worn suggests it was put together in the dark.

She in turn looks at you and notes the bed-creased, baggy-eyed face and the pre-coffee crankiness, and can’t help but wonder why that suit which hangs off you like a soggy fish hadn’t been donated to a charity. Now, this may not sound like a romantic scenario but it works for the four out of 10 office workers in Britain (stats according to jobs search engine Adzuna) who connect at some point in their career.

Right now however, those who find love during working hours are being threatened with a cold bucket of water by worried HR staff, the debate prompted by the sacking of McDonald’s boss Steve Easterbrook, who had a consensual relationship with an employee. And it was cranked up by a GMTV interview in which the CEO of lingerie business Bluebella, Emily Bendel, argued that relationships in the office ‘need to be declared’ and there should be ‘guidelines’.

But Bendel is not only wrong, workplace relationships should be encouraged. Why? Meet someone in a bar or a club and they’re relaxed, in control and preened. Try to meet someone online and you discover an ocean of difficulty, from heavily doctored sites to having to assess a prospective partner armed with little more knowledge than they love nothing more than contracting trench foot while walking in the Campsies and listen to Coldplay. (Although both are strong indicators of personality). Tinder meanwhile is an exercise in wonder; why someone would post pics of their dogs, or themselves in semi-porn state, or shots suggesting they’d just been shot by a Taser gun. (Your immediate thought isn’t romance. It’s Restraining Order.)

But if you have romantic leanings towards a colleague you will already know most of what you need to know; their thoughts on Brexit, Indy Ref 2 (or 3, or 4, 5, 6 . . .?) whether or not James Bond should be a female or vegans are killing the fun in eating food.

They, on the other hand, have seen/heard you deal with sticks of dynamite in the form of difficult clients, customers etc, or struggle to meet a deadline.

Yes, there can be problems with work romances, when, for example, a Christmas party has gone a bit Caligula and there are a few Santa-red faces the next day. And there is a problem when there is a power imbalance. Bosses such as Easterbrook should certainly avoid a relationship with an employee.

But to suggest HRs should be recording workplace romances between colleagues is a step too far. I can recall some years ago being taken aside one night by my editor and warned as to my future conduct after being spotted leaving the office late-ish with a colleague of the opposite sex. We were owned by STV at the time, who had a no fraternising policy. The assumption made by my worried editor was that myself and colleague were having Ugandan discussions, (or to give the euphemism a more modern Johnsonian context, taking ‘technology lessons.’)

Which was a fair assumption. However, I was swift to point out there were no fewer than five workplace romances on the go, most of them related to our overlords at STV, involving bosses and subordinate females.

My point however was not just to indicate hypocrisy, but to outline that office flings are there to be flung. And I added, if the work is getting done, then what else matters?

There’s also a wider picture to be considered with workplace romances. Why should the terminally shy be punished because they can’t chat freely to people they don’t know in a bar? Why should someone with a couple of kids who can’t get out at the weekend be victimised by company policy? It’s all very well for actor Emma Watson this week to declare she’s happy to be (she uses the popular, if oxymoronic term) “self-partnering” but what of the austerity-raddled who can’t afford to dress up and hit the town?

And wouldn’t the imposition of romance be an indicator of borderline totalitarianism? To deny the chemistry a couple has is at least immoral.

Yes, of course, work place rules should be adhered to; no kissy kissy in the staff canteen, no allowing domestic fights to follow you into the office. But remember too the #MeToo movement has already made men fearful of offering a scant smile in the direction of an employee for fear of reprisal.

When WS Gilbert wrote “It’s love that makes the world go round” for Iolanthe he didn’t add “But keep it out of the office.” He knew that would have been mad.