Remote work and emoji are a powerful couple as they spice up written conversations and create a lively atmosphere. The truth is that these symbols are everywhere and they shape conversations by expressing emotions. Since they were originally invented in Japan in the late 1990s, their role in the modern world has grown significantly. From social media, through private Messenger conversations, to work-related content within Slack – they influence our lives whether we want it or not.  Now in the remote work era, we can’t possibly underestimate their impact on professional relations.

Vague non-verbal content

Have you ever received an e-mail that caused mixed feelings? Maybe you got feedback and you were unsure whether it was positive or constructive? Or you shared an idea and just received an “OK” response? Well, one thing is sure – you’re not alone. It’s sometimes hard to figure out the real meaning or intention of a written message as we can’t see the facial expression or hear the tone of voice. Obviously, we can’t spot the other person’s body language either.

There are numerous articles online, recommending making written communication almost emotionless by avoiding humor or idioms. I once even heard a sentence that “showing emotions when doing business is a sign of weakness”. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the author, but I know for sure that it’s not true. Moreover, there are statistics proving that 50% of e-mails and text messages are being misunderstood. Why? Because we tend to decrypt the author’s intention according to our own biases. Let’s check out a simple, everyday scenario. A manager is writing a brief message to a team member: “Can you please join me on Zoom in 15 minutes?”. What’s the context in this case? Well, the manager may just want to discuss something quickly but it may also be a severe case. Such messages are both easy to write and misread. Unfortunately, we tend to interpret neutral messages as if they were negative. So now imagine this in a remote work setup when we hardly ever see each other in real life. Bland, emotionless messages would lead to unnecessary stress, unconscious bias or even imposter syndrome!


Spice up your remote work experience

Don’t be shy and add more context to written communication! Had the above mentioned message entailed emoji such as 😉🥳👍🤩🤓, it would have been clear that there was no negative intention. Also, when we exchange messages via Slack, adding these fun symbols will make our overall collaboration experience better. I mean who doesn’t like the Party Parrot and all those fun scenarios that we can see this crazy bird in? As we are used to daily interactions with other people in real life, leaving our work-related, written content completely emotionless seems unnatural.  However, I sometimes still hear questions from managers asking me if it’s serious to experiment with emoji. Some say that “we’re in a business environment, after all”. I agree – it’s true. But who said that using them will affect our performance and professionalism?

I strongly believe that adding a human touch to business messages won’t hurt anybody.

Moreover, the pandemic has forced us to speak openly about non-work related topics during numerous Zoom calls which has sometimes led to getting to know each other even better than before. Since we’ve all been locked up at home, literally climbing walls – every funny emoji has spread joy and reassurance about shipping greatness at work!


Emoji or emoticons?

It seems like emoji and emoticons are the same thing at first glance but they’re actually quite different. The latter were born at Carnegie Mellon University in 1982 and they are very simple in use. 🙂  Emoji on the other hand, almost represent another, global language that belongs to the digital world. 🙌😎🌍  They are definitely more developed in its variety as they striving to “mirror” human experiences in today’s online reality. You can dive into Emojipedia to find many categories and versions suitable for different platforms – from Google, WhatsApp, Microsoft, Apple to Clubhouse.

Ignoring emotions in the remote work era would mean a step back. As we’re not able to see each other on a daily basis, remaining authentic is worth gold. Companies keep investing in online team building activities and well-being classes so let’s also make some effort on a personal level – whether it’s on video or in writing. 💻✍️😂


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