Emoji Use Takes Off in the Workplace

September 3, 2019

[cosmic design]
[cosmic design]

At CircleCI, a cloud-software firm, it’s company policy to use teddy bear emoji in certain communications. At beverage-maker Joyride Coffee, the unamused face and nauseated face emoji are both considered acceptable in communications.

Using emoticons to express intention, feeling and even inflection is fairly ubiquitous now in professional life. To celebrate World Emoji Day (July 17), Adobe released its first-ever Emoji Trend Report. According to the survey, 61 percent of respondents use emoji at work. To their credit, 72 percent of respondents felt hesitant about using emoji — at first. But other stats make the case for using them. Sixty-three percent said a positive use of emoji improved their credibility while 78 percent said it made them more likable.

And as The Wall Street Journal reports, while it might seem juvenile, the trend of using these cartoon pictographs is happening for neurological reasons and can lead to better cooperation among co-workers.

Researchers in Colombia found that the same brain areas that process faces also process emoji. They often include salient facial features that visually convey human emotion, such as eyes, eyebrows and mouths.

After reviewing 50 studies on emojis in communication, researchers at the University of Hong Kong found that on balance, their proper use helps people form relationships and understand one another. Jeremy Burge, chief emoji officer of reference website Emojipedia, says the images make messaging more efficient by conveying intent and context.

But it’s not always appropriate to use emoticons in business, and they can’t replace other forms of communication, experts say. In June 2015, General Motors famously published a press release entirely in emoji to mixed results.

Ella Glikson, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, cautions that if you don’t know the local emoji parlance, attempting to use them can make you seem unserious or less competent — and damage your ability to collaborate. — Greg Beaubien


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