Communication, culture, connection. These are often cited as things that will be hard to cultivate or maintain in a remote work environment. Nonsense! All three of those are easily solved by adding emojis to your communication repertoire.
It’s true that text has limitations when compared with talking in-person, where you can (sometimes) deduce intent through tone of voice, and where you can see facial expressions, read body language, and hear laughter. I argue, though, that all of those can be communicated by adding emojis to your text-based communication. Emojis signal the feelings your face, voice, or body would typically divulge.
I know my coworkers well through the emojis that they use (and create!) to tell others, “This is what I mean,” “this is the subtext,” or “here is how I feel about this.” You can tell the laughers through their frequent use of the 😂 and 😆 emojis. The creative folks find lesser-used emojis to share subtext. The connectors will make personalized emojis for their coworkers and will react to deeds well done with trophies 🏆 and gold stars 🌟 and confetti 🎉.
For myself, these are the emojis I use most:
Across all the places I communicate — at work and with friends who don’t live nearby — Slack tells me I use the 😂 emoji most. This does not surprise me. See I’m an easy laugh. Also, I love that in Slack it’s called :joy:.
The thumbs up signals clarity and closure that, Yep, I’m good with that, I understand, I’m on board, or Let’s do it. This is my second most used at work.
The heart is my third most used emoji at work, and the second most in my personal life. At work, I use the heart to express sympathy, thank you, I love what you just said, I think you’re great, stuff like that. In my personal life the heart usually means I love you, I love that for you, I love that picture you just posted.
The high-five seems pretty self-explanatory, but I use it to high-five coworkers when we’ve accomplished something together, to close out a conversation to say, cool, we’re good here, nice work together, I liked working with you on this.
I use the ty heart to say thank you.
We also have about a zillion custom emojis in our work Slack. My personal favorites there:
I have not worked in-person with colleagues for more than seven years, and I can honestly say that misunderstandings due to text-based communication are no more frequent than I have seen in other workplaces due to face-to-face communications. I credit emojis with this.
This is my response to Bloganuary prompt 11: What emoji(s) do you like to use?