Emoji Etiquette: How (and When) to Use Emojis at Work

emojis at work

In recent years, emojis have moved from personal chats into business communications, adding some extra personality to workplace messages.

As the lines start to blur between using emojis in formal and informal conversations, it’s becoming more important to understand when and how to use emojis in a work environment.

In this article, learn about the dos and don’ts of using emojis at work and find out how to strike the perfect balance between being professional and expressing your personality.

When to use emojis in business communications

Whether you’re messaging your colleague or emailing your manager, let’s explore some situations where it’s usually okay to use emojis at work.

Using emojis to communicate with your colleagues

In the right context (especially when you know your colleagues well), emojis can help to express emotion and support your objectives in emails. They add a personal touch and can make your messages feel more human.

Emojis can also be used in less formal conversations or team chats. They are great for reacting to comments, sharing a laugh, or just adding some personality to a conversation. They’re also perfect for helping to create a friendly work environment and culture.

Using emojis to communicate with customers or clients

In some cases, using emojis in your external communications can enhance the appeal of your messages and make your brand more relatable.

However, it’s important to make sure that emojis are appropriate for your brand before using them in any client communications.

Customer emails

Who says professional emails have to be boring? When used correctly, emojis can add more personality and warmth to your emails.

But remember, with great emoji power comes great responsibility. The trick is to pick the perfect emoji for the business setting. Sending a client dancing salsa ladies (💃) or clinking beer glasses (🍻) probably isn’t a good idea. However, a strategically placed smiley face emoji can be a way of saying, “Hey, I am friendly and approachable!”

It’s all about not overdoing it and making sure you maintain your brand’s tone of voice, striking the right balance between friendliness and professionalism. In the world of professional emails, “less is more.”

Social media

If you’re going to use emojis anywhere, social media platforms are the place to do so. Emojis can be a great way to help your messages stand out, as well as a way to connect with your followers. They’re especially useful on platforms like Instagram, X, and Facebook to capture the attention of your followers.

Using emojis like loudspeakers (📢) or sirens (🚨) for announcements, is like saying “listen up, we’ve got something to say!” Similarly, using a thought bubble (💭) or question mark emoji in interactive posts like polls and Q&As suggests that you want to hear your followers’ thoughts – encouraging them to reply to your post.

When shouldn’t you use emojis at work?

Recognising when to avoid using emojis at work is just as important as knowing when to use them.

There are certain situations where emojis are usually inappropriate, such as:

Formal communications: Official reports, legal documents, formal letters, and high-level executive emails are typically a no-go for emojis. Their casual nature can take away from the importance of these communications.

Sensitive topics: Discussions around redundancies, salary issues, performance reviews, or customer complaints are serious matters. Emojis in such contexts can come across as disrespectful.

First-time communications: When you’re reaching out to someone for the first time in a business setting, it’s wise to avoid emojis. It’s better to gauge their communication style first before introducing emojis into the conversation.

Cultural differences: In global communications, be careful. An emoji that’s considered friendly in one culture might be considered unprofessional or offensive in another. So always make sure you understand the uses and contexts of your chosen emojis.

When precision is key: For technical instructions, legal advice, or safety guidelines, avoid emojis. They can distract people from the essential information and potentially lead to misunderstandings.

4 tips on how to use emojis in the workplace

Tip #1: Context is key

Just like in a conversation, the context in which you use emojis at work is vital. Emojis can add a friendly touch to a message, but be careful – using the wrong one in a serious email or document can change its meaning.

Tip #2: Echo your company’s tone of voice

If your workplace loves a bit of emoji fun, then go for it! But if things are more on the formal side, it’s best to avoid them. When you’re not sure, err on the side of caution and keep things professional.

Tip #3: Less is more

Remember, emojis should add to your message, not overwhelm it. A couple of well-placed smileys? Perfect. Emojis in every sentence? Not so much.

Tip #4: Keep up to date

Emoji trends are always changing. Keep your emoji knowledge up to date by staying aware of the latest additions and changes in meaning.

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If you enjoyed reading this article, check out our related blog: Beyond a Smiling Face: Your Guide to Uncommon Emoji Meanings.