Is it ever ok to kiss in the workplace?

Is it ever OK to kiss your work colleagues? CEO tells GMB that outlawing smooches makes the workplace more fun – but Nicola McClean claims ‘banning culture’ makes people more anxious

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Is it ever ok to kiss in the workplace? A prickly debate has broken out on Good Morning Britain after one rather awkward kiss caught the attention of the world’s media recently.

Over the weekend, reports emerged after Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman was caught on camera attempting to kiss his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock while posing for a group photo in Berlin.

The video shows Radman, 65, reaching out to Baerbock, 42, to shake her hand and trying to kiss her on the cheek at a photoshoot during an EU conference last Thursday.

Meanwhile, she awkwardly swivels her head away from him. The gesture drew fierce debate on social media and sparked outrage from feminist groups, but Grlic Radman shrugged off the criticism.

However, Good Morning Britain today debated the topic, asking whether it is ever acceptable to kiss in the workplace, with TV personality Nicola McLean suggesting it should be ok to embrace in certain situations, and Gen Z company CEO Saffron Gilbert-Kaluba arguing that it is never appropriate in the workplace.

TV personality Nicola McClean (pictured) said that as someone who is married into a Greek family, she is used to people kissing and being tactile 

Discussing how she is married to a Greek man, and so is used to enjoying a very tactile relationship with her in-laws, Nicola said her problem was the idea of ‘ban’ culture, whereby it becomes forbidden to engage in certain behaviours – which can be confusing to some people.

She explained: ‘I’ve got a 17-year-old son and a 13-year-old son. My 13-year-old is not affectionate in any way. But my 17 year old is – my husband’s Greek, so is his whole family. 

‘I’m Scottish, so why didn’t grow up like that, but I’ve been with [husband] Tom for nearly 20 years.’

She explained that the custom in Greece is often to kiss people on both cheeks, and that both men and women do it to each other, it is simply a friendly and social gesture.

Nicola continued that she will often give a friendly peck when it feels appropriate in the workplace – which, as a freelancer, means she works in various different places.

She explained: ‘I don’t have one workplace, but I go to loads of different ones.  Depending on….[if] I’ve been there before, I’ll give the makeup art is a kiss on the cheek to says thanks for doing a great job. 

‘But what the problem this banning…which is just so worrying. I’ve already talked to my sons about consent, about being respectful, about what they can and can’t [do].’

She added that further rules about what is deemed inappropriate could induce further anxiety in young men.

Saffron Gilbert-Kaluba (pictured) felt that having rules about what is and isn’t acceptable makes people feel more comfortable in social situations

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is kissed by Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman – prompting controversy

However, CEO Saffron Gilbert-Kaluba felt that clarity around whether or not kissing colleagues is a good thing could actually help relieve stress from young people.

She added that far from making the workplace less fun, getting rid of grey areas where people aren’t sure what and what isn’t acceptable, actually makes work more enjoyable.

‘You can have fun at the workplace,’ she said. ‘[With] me as a Gen Z CEO at my workplace, you know, we’re singing, we’re dancing, probably having a day…No one would ever get up and start kissing people on the cheek.

‘And I would say that we’re much more friendly than most and casual with things.’

Good Morning Britain ran a poll on X (formerly Twitter) and found that 55 per cent of respondents said we should stop kissing colleague, meanwhile 45 per cent said it’s fine.

However, despite this, many people who wrote comments on the social media site said they had no problem with kissing.

Social media users had a range of opinions on whether or not it is ok to kiss your colleagues and other people on the cheek in a friendly manner

One wrote: ‘I live in Spain, when I see my bank manager we greet each other with a kiss on each cheek. It’s very normal here. Even when you first meet someone.’

Another added: ‘We live in Greece and its completely normal to kiss on both cheeks when you meet. The sex of the person doesn’t come into it. Its just a nice greeting.’

And in a similar vein, a third wrote: ‘I greet most of my colleagues, work network and even some of my customers with a kiss on the cheek. It is a greeting not an indecent proposal.’

However, a further X user added: ‘Some people really don’t like it. I would be outraged. Be taking it to HR. Don’t touch me without my consent. Not even a hug. Offer a hand for a shake, great, but touching is a no no. You might not see it as indecent, to me it would make me feel very uncomfortable.’

And another agreed, writing: ‘Get out of my space I would be saying – time to get women some decent boundaries.’ 

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