Is It Okay To Use Emojis At Work?

Let it be known that this is an opinionated topic. While numerous studies have been conducted to “prove” that emojis, in fact, send a bad signal to the receiver of the message, I believe there is a time and place where it is completely acceptable in the business world. Although, you’re absolutely allowed to disagree.

I would like to share with you a few scenarios where it is okay to use emojis at work. And how emojis might even be used to help you become more productive. Yes, it’s possible!


Emojis in Internal Messages

Many businesses, from corporate offices to startups with teams of two, are using messaging apps to communicate internally. The majority of these apps include a library of emojis built-in to their systems. sometimes it can be difficult to refrain from using emojis ALL THE TIME, especially since many have become reliant on them in everyday text messages to friends and family. While I don’t advise that you send emoji’s with every message, or that you send them to your boss, a smile or thumbs up in most cases is an easy response.

But what if I told you that when used in such a way, emojis could make you more productive; or at least make messages easier to decipher and sort through. Sounds interesting, right? Well, at Cultiv8 we use Slack to communicate about everything and anything. Which means things can get messy especially if you’re jumping between projects, tasks, or questions. To keep track of what we’re talking about or what we’re asking of the other person we use emojis.

What makes Slack so awesome is the create custom emojis feature. What?! Yes, you can turn any image into a custom emoji. Which is exactly what we did. We created a legend of custom emojis that represents what type of message we’re sending. This helps each of us understand whether a message is…

Urgent: Stop what you’re doing right now and PLEASE respond.

Proof: Please review and respond with changes before I send this to the client.

Pencil: Here are my edits regarding the proof you sent previously.

Important: It’s important, but you don’t have to respond immediately.

OMG: You need to see this right now, it’s so cool!

Thumbs Up: Approved!

Gear: I’m switching gears in the current conversation.

Question: Identify important thoughts/questions in long threads.

I can honestly say we’ve seen an improvement in our communication and understanding after interjecting emojis. But, rather than using them to just send smiley faces we’re using them as a visual marker to indicate what our messages mean or how important they are. This means we’re spending less time scratching our heads wondering what the message is asking or less time delayed before responding. Even more so, emojis make it quicker to locate previous messages in our history if we know which emoji we are looking for because the visual element stands out easily among text.


Emojis in Business Emails

The even bigger question though is whether you should or should not be using emojis in work emails. I believe there is a time and place where this is appropriate, but there are also times where it’s not. Regardless, if you’re the type of person who always sends emojis in your correspondences, you should never send them to:

  • potential clients
  • new clients
  • your higher authorities (boss, manager, etc)
  • prestigious clients

The point is, evaluate your audience before choosing to send emojis in your email. If you know the person you’re sending the email too is not a fan, then it’s best you not use them. You wouldn’t want to compromise an important project or client over something as minuscule as an emoji.

Secondly, using emojis in an email is very different from how emojis are used in messages. For emails, there are very few instances in which they can be a tool. Instead, they’re typically a gesture of emotion. Attempting to express emotions through emails almost seems pointless because it will never have the same meaning as expressing that emotion face-to-face. In this case, my advice is to avoid emojis in work emails, period. Better safe than sorry.

• • •

Although the answer to the question is yes and no, we certainly hope we’ve shared some useful tips with you on how to use emojis to your advantage. Because the truth is, they’re not always bad. It’s simply about when and how you choose to use them. Are you currently using them in your place of work? Is it effective or not? Feel free to send us a message, we’d love to hear about how you use emojis at work.

Is it okay to use emojis at work?
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