How to Use Emojis and Emoticons at Work

August 3, 2016

Should workers hit send on that “unamused” emoji? As with most things, moderation is key, new research from staffing firm OfficeTeam suggests. Nearly four in 10 (39 percent) senior managers interviewed said it’s unprofessional to include emojis or emoticons in work communications, but 61 percent stated it’s OK, at least in certain situations.

When office workers were asked how they feel about these symbols, 59 percent said they never or only sparingly use them, while 41 percent send them at least sometimes.

“Emojis and emoticons are showing up just about everywhere, but that doesn’t mean they’re always appropriate for the workplace,” Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam, said in a release announcing the results. “While using these symbols can help employees convey their feelings and personalities in written communications, they can also be distracting and appear unprofessional.”

OfficeTeam offered five tips for communicators on using emojis and emoticons at work:

  • Limit it. Use emojis and emoticons minimally, if at all. Going overboard with these icons could annoy others and muddle your message.
  • Consider your audience. Be mindful of the corporate culture and your relationship with those you’re communicating to. Sending an occasional smiley face to a work friend may be OK, but is less so when interacting with your boss or company leaders.
  • Evaluate the situation. Including these images can add levity, but it depends on the topic. Leave them out when discussing serious matters, as it can appear awkward or rude.
  • Stick to what you know. Don’t use an emoji if you aren’t certain what it represents and how it will be received. Some symbols can be taken the wrong way or have multiple meanings.
  • Just say it. When in doubt, rely on words to get your point across. Opt for in-person or phone discussions with colleagues if it’s helpful to see facial expressions or hear vocal inflections.

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