The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Emojis at Work: LinkedIn Career Expert Series

December 16, 2016

Emojis used to be reserved for messaging your closest friends. Now, emojis are finding their way into the workplace. Many companies are using emojis to connect with their audience - we even spotted a LinkedIn Job listing for an Emoji Translator this week. It helps that emojis are becoming more career-friendly by the day — Apple’s latest emojis feature a suite of new professions for women.

While you may not think twice about using emojis with friends, it can be difficult to figure out the protocol for using emojis when messaging your boss, colleagues or clients. Let’s break down the do’s and don’ts for using emojis in the workplace.

1. Know your company’s culture

Every workplace is unique, so it’s important to understand the culture in your office to determine if it’s appropriate to use emojis. Take cues from others who are more senior than you. And if you’re the boss, understand that your approach sets the tone for others.

If you’re speaking with a new colleague or a potential client, it’s best to skip it. You’ll come across more professional and avoid miscommunication.

Emoji usage can also depend on the industry you work in. If you’re in a creative field or in the digital communication space, it may make sense to use emojis more than someone in a field like finance or law.

2. Don’t overuse emojis

A good rule of thumb is to treat emojis at work like exclamation points – best if used sparingly to avoid muddling your message. If you’re having an important conversation, it may be inappropriate to use emojis as you may give off the impression to others that you aren’t taking it seriously.

Be conscious about the different platforms for communication in your office. You may find that emojis are more than acceptable on the team’s instant messaging channels, but with email, your company takes a more professional tone.

3. Stick to what you know

Don’t use an emoji if you aren’t absolutely certain what it represents and how it will be received. Some symbols can be taken the wrong way or have multiple meanings. When in doubt, rely on words to get your point across.

4. Don’t forget to stay professional

With so much communication taking place via email and messaging, using emojis can help boost team morale and office culture, but make sure to always stay professional. When it comes to workplace interactions, it’s best to show up professionally.

Ultimately, whether emojis are an acceptable form of workplace communication comes down to your company’s culture, industry, and your personality. Take time to get to know your team, your clients and your superiors so you can effectively communicate and showcase a professional brand you’re proud of.