New Captivate Office Pulse Survey Finds Sixty-Five Percent of North American Workers Depend on Work Spouses for Advice, Information and Companionship

Married Executives More Likely to Discuss Sex and 'Cross the Line' with a Work Spouse than Non-Executives

Nov 08, 2010, 10:21 ET from Captivate Network

Chelmsford, Mass., Nov. 8, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Captivate Network, leading media solutions company in the digital place-based advertising market, today announced the results of the first Captivate Office Pulse(sm) survey of the white-collar working world in the United States and Canada. The survey was focused on the "work spouse" and explored the attitudes toward -- and the influence of -- these special companions.

The survey of more than 600 white-collar workers in major metropolitan markets in the U.S. and Canada found the lines between professional and personal lives are blurring -- with work spouses serving as confidants on extremely personal issues. From health problems, to money matters to sex there are few topics not discussed by these close coworkers.

The issue of sexualized relationships is especially acute for married executives -- who also tend to spend more time in the office than their non-executive colleagues. Thirty three percent of married executives discussed their sex lives with their work spouse compared with 26 percent of non-executive colleagues. This group is also more likely to move from words to deeds with twelve percent of married executives admitted to crossing the line with a work spouse as compared with only eight percent of non-executive respondents.

According to Jacqueline Olds, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and associate in psychiatry at McLean Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, long hours spent in the workplace can lead people to form close relationships with their colleagues -- relationships that can sometimes be a danger to their primary relationships.

"Given that many people are actually spending more time with their colleagues rather than their families on an average day, it's no surprise that these types of workplace relationships are gaining importance," explained Olds, who co-authored the books 'Marriage in Motion: The Natural Ebb and Flow of Lasting Relationships,' and 'The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-first Century.'  "It isn't surprising to see these types of relationships gaining importance. In many cases these are influential, positive and supportive relationships that can be critical to succeeding in today's high-pressure work environments. Unfortunately it's also not surprising to see these relationships move from friendly to something more. And, intentionally or not, that can have devastating consequences."

Select survey results:

The Role of the Work Spouse

  • Most respondents (55 percent) keep interaction with their work spouse confined to the office.
  • Nearly a quarter (24 percent) maintain close communication with their work spouse even on weekends and weeknights.
  • While 38 percent said their work spouses are similar in personality to their real spouses or significant others, 52 percent said their personalities were complete opposite.
  • Nearly one-third (33 percent) of respondents indicated that their work spouse's appearance is important to them. More men (40 percent) place importance on appearance than women (22 percent).

Men and Women Differ in their Work Spouse Relationships

  • There is a sizeable difference among those who report having had a same-sex work spouse. Sixty seven percent of married women say they've had a same-sex work spouse compared with only 34 percent of married men.
  • Are married people hiding their work spouse? 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 percent of men reporting their real spouse does not know about their work spouse while only 18 percent of women reporting the same.

Topics of Discussion

  • Respondents predictably discussed work issues with their work spouse (93 percent discussed work in general, 87 percent talked about co-workers and 58 percent discussed salary).
  • More personal issues are also topics for work spouse discussion: 63 percent discussed health issues, 59 percent confided about at-home problems and 35 percent discussed their sex lives.
  • Most respondents have clear boundaries in interactions with their work spouse. However, 13 percent of those surveyed said they had a personal interaction with their work spouse that they later regretted

When it comes to influence, 67 percent of respondents said their work spouse had an influence over their purchase decisions. There are several cases where the work spouse has greater influence over purchasing decisions than a real spouse. In the case of jewelry, 60 percent of respondents cited their work spouse as more influential. In the case of books 58 percent said that was the case.

Work Spouses Influence Buying Decisions

  • Sixty seven percent of respondents say their work spouse has influenced a buying decision.
  • Seventy eight percent said their work spouse influenced their choice of restaurants, 56 percent said their work spouse influenced a technology purchase and 47 percent said their work spouse influenced buying clothing.
  • For some categories, work spouses had even more influence than real spouses or significant others. For example, 58 percent said their work spouse had greater influence over jewelry purchases and 60 percent over book purchases. Fifty six percent said their work spouse had more influence over clothing choices.

"We're very pleased with the results and level of participation we saw for this research," said Mike DiFranza, president of Captivate Network. "We're confident that organizations interested in effectively reaching the white collar workforce will find the results of this -- and future surveys -- useful.  We're looking forward to hearing feedback from our viewers and providing new research in the future."

The Captivate Office Pulse Work Spouse survey is the first of a new research offering provided by Captivate. 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.

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. The full report can be downloaded directly from Captivate.


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 nearly 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 Captivate Network

Captivate Network is the leading media solutions company in the digital place-based advertising market. Through multiple touch points -- on screen, on line and on site -- Captivate enables advertisers to engage a highly desirable and targeted audience of millions of employed, "spend-ready" consumers at a time and place when they are most inclined to make business and personal buying decisions. Captivate's viewership metrics were recently validated by The Nielsen Company in a survey of over 1,000 visitors. Captivate was founded in 1997 and acquired by Gannett in 2004. The company is headquartered in Massachusetts, with offices throughout North America. For more information visit

SOURCE Captivate Network