Is using emojis in the workplace a good idea?

These days emojis are everywhere. Guilty of having our noses stuck in our phones, it’s second nature for us to send an emoji to get our message across faster than typing ever could.


Whether it’s a smiley face, a thumbs up or a high five, we're all becoming experts at understanding the intended message from a simple icon.


Our brains process visual information 60,000 times faster than it takes the time to decode text, so it's unsurprising that our Iphones now automatically offer emoji replacements to words. 


Emojis have crept into workplace comms


Back in the day the most we had to worry about was accidentally typing out a kiss at the end of an email to our boss… but now as emojis are banded back and forth between friends and colleagues, are we closer than ever to overstepping the mark in our professional relationships?


Can we communicate freely and informally whilst still being professional?


A 2016 survey conducted by Adobe on European email trends showed that:


People are using emojis in their communications more than ever - nearly three quarters (73%) use them in personal emails, and one-third (33%) in the workplace.

 Why we're using emojis at work


Increasingly, we’re all working more remotely, accessing emails on our mobiles, jumping on Skype chats and even using enterprise social networks such as Slack to manage on-going projects. Emails, being one of the more formal methods of communication at work, have been labelled as "hierarchical and compartmentalised, and great for political manoeuvering" by Dr Leah Reich, top Sociologist and Slack's user researcher, thanks to their 'blind CC' function and exclusive nature. 


Millennials and enterprise social networks play a part


The office demographic is changing. More and more millennials are walking through the door, armed with the attitude that open, collaborative and creative communications far surpass stuffy email chains. According to McKinsey Global Institute, fully integrated social technologies can boost the productivity of high-skill workers including mangers and professionals by 20 to 25%. These enterprise social networks often come ready prepped with a full suite of emojis, and we feel compelled to use them.


The benefits of using emojis


Our methods of communication have become more instant as a whole. In addition to getting our message across quicker, the use of emojis adds personality and humour to workplace comms, shifting the tone from strictly professional to more chatty and warm.


Some top global brands have intentionally integrated emojis into external Marketing campaigns, in an attempt to better connect with their audience. But whilst emojis have their benefits, we must ask ourselves when and where they're appropriate.



Bowline Twitter Poll


7 top tips to getting it right


To emoji or not to emoji… that is the question. Be sure to consider the following points when using emojis at work...


  • Know your audience 

    - having a solid understanding of who you're talking to is crucial. Take note of the language they use and connect on a level that you'll both feel comfortable with.

  • Understand your emojis

    – seemingly innocent emojis can sometimes have other hidden connotations. The aubergine is a prime example... it's important to be aware of these! It's worth checking out Emojipedia for the true meaning.

  • Consider emojis like slang 

    - best kept to informal conversations, they don't sit well alongside more formal written comms where a level of seriousness is expected.

  • Use them sparingly

    – being bombarded with emojis is annoying. They should be used to compliment your message, not dilute it. 

  • Check your brand or style guidelines

    – these can often give an indication of the tone of voice and formality expected from your company.

  • Speak on the phone 

    - pick up the phone, don't forget chat features don't replace the art of conversation.

  • Be wary of compatibility issues

    – certain emojis that work on mobile aren’t compatible with desktop and can appear spammy… if in doubt, test it out.


 Each organisation's culture is different, but one thing's for sure - the way we all communicate is becoming more and more digital. We hope our 7 tips help you to feel more confident about whether you should embrace the emoji or leave it at the door. 



Thumbs Up Emojis people