Job Search & Career Advice

Emoji Etiquette 101: When and How to Use Emojis at Work

Texting emojis to your friends and sending them at work (through email or messaging) have completely different vibes. And it’s important to know the difference. Emojis might be frowned upon at the workplace because they have been deemed by some to be unprofessional. But as emojis become increasingly part of our written language, we are seeing more of them pop up in emails and work-related messages in a professional setting. Much of that depends on the culture of your workplace and clientele.

Whereas an emoji might be welcome in a more relaxed work environment, it might not fly in a very traditional workplace. Understanding your audience, adhering to company guidelines, and sticking to non-controversial emojis are all critical when it comes to emoji use at work. If you’re struggling to figure out the right way to proceed, we have a little emoji etiquette 101 for when and how to use emojis at work.

Trust us: there is a wrong way to use emojis and you don’t want to fall into that trap. According to Statista, 60% of people use emojis at work; 72% were hesitant to use emojis at work for the first time. Still feeling shy?  

Tips for Using Emojis at Work – Correctly 

Here’s when and how you can incorporate emojis into your work-related written communication

1. Know your audience 

When using emojis, this is the number one tip to keep in mind before hitting send on that email. Know your company and your clients, and whether it’s appropriate to include emojis in your communications. If no one else is using them, it’s best to refrain. When in doubt, ask your supervisor about communication guidelines. And if you do use an emoji, don’t go overboard. One is likely enough and keep the rest of the communication professional.  

Another important point to keep in mind is that not everyone understands emojis – so what might be funny or polite to you, could inadvertently come across as rude to others. This is especially important when talking to clients or employees in other countries. For example, certain emojis have different meanings depending on the country you’re in.

2. Evaluate the context for internal and external communication 

Does your team use emojis in their communication with one another? If so, it might be safe to go ahead and participate with other teammates. With so many of us in virtual working environments, emojis can be a helpful communication tool. Emojis enhance conversations, can effectively express what you’re thinking, and add a little fun to your conversation. If your team loves emojis, we say go for it!

What about sending emojis to customers? Again, context is key. If you work in a less formal atmosphere and its common practice, it might be appropriate – but err on the careful side. Check with your manager to get the all-clear to use common, inoffensive emojis in this case.

3. Use emojis you know 

Especially when including emojis in an email, you want to be 100% sure of the emoji you are using. If you think an emoji looks cool but are unsure of what it means, don’t include it.  You don’t want to change the tone of your message simply because you used an emoji you didn’t know the meaning of. When in doubt, leave it out. Further, stick to common, non-controversial emojis in work communications in order to avoid miscommunication or unintentionally offending the recipient. 

4. Keep the tone professional 

At the end of the day, you’re at work and you need to remember to keep your tone professional. Emojis that express happiness, kindness and other work-related ones (like using a computer) keep the emails and communication about work. You want to come across as trustworthy and thoughtful – and your written communication will be important for that. 

5. Continue to use words 

Jumping off the last point, use your words. Emojis should be used sparingly and only to express a work-related emotion. Your words should still be the main focus of any professional conversation via email or messaging – don’t let them get lost in too many distracting emojis. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the emoji faces you’ve used in an email, it might be time to go back to the drawing board and focus on writing those thoughts out. 

Emojis are fun but keep in mind “fun” when using them at work. While they can help enhance conversations, they can be interpreted differently which could make communication a little awkward or unprofessional with a coworker or even a potential client.  

Happy World Emoji Day! 

Roth Staffing has specialized business lines to help you find the right role in the industry you want to be in. From administrative, to finance & accounting, to technology or legal staffing, discover how our recruiters can help you take that next step in your career.