If we were to rewind five years, the prospect of using emojis anywhere other than on social media (particularly the idea of using emojis in business) seemed a little absurd. To be honest, I was even hesitant to use them at the start. When they started being used in the subject line of email marketing campaigns, I was simply disgusted. Today, I won’t be known to send a text message without a smiley face, cowboy, or a monkey with its eyes covered (you know the one I’m referring to).
But according to experts, emojis may be a terrific way to communicate amongst colleagues in the modern business world.
It sounds logical, although a tad unprofessional at first. With work from home and flexible work becoming the new norm, communicating emotions has been incredibly difficult. Further, creating a sustainable feedback loop has been a personal point of difficulty. Emojis admittedly do open the door to emotional cues that enable us to understand the feelings of our colleagues in the office. This can help to alter how we converse with our team members (where visual aid generally assists), and to derive feedback.
A recent survey conducted amongst Station Five’s clients found that since work from home arrangements commenced, staff are concerned about their job security because the feedback from their bosses when tasks are complete has completely diminished.
It can be difficult whilst working remotely without the instant gratification of a face to face interaction, to see what your colleagues are feeling. Specifically, remember how great it felt when a manager or colleague responded well with a smile, or some positive body language when you exceeded their expectations?
I spoke to Raj Choudhury, a Harvard business school professor, on my podcast recently (see the podcast here). Raj has been studying remote work for years and understood my concerns in this area, and suggested emojis may just be the way to go.
“We have the whole news language of communication through emojis and exclamation marks…”, he said. “I think what’s going to happen over time is as more and more people, especially millennials, embrace remote work, they will just develop new norms at the workplace for how to hand over work, how to expect people to slap your back…”
Raj says it’s going to be hard for people to get positive feedback because people will be working from all over the world. The well known “pat on the back” is simply impossible. But in order for this issue to be resolved, we need to be aware of two key factors. These are time to adaptation, and active consideration from management (of all levels). As with any organisational change, it needs full adoption. Most of all, it has to be deliberate.
Raj shared, “You won’t succeed in remote work without some deliberate intent intentions of making this happen.”
Implementing Emojis In Business
To implement emojis in the workplace, start by telling your staff you’d like to see at least one emoji when giving positive feedback. Tell them it’s totally acceptable, and remind them that robotic boring corporate talk and jargon is really driving people away across all facets (further listening here).
Start doing it yourself as a leader; and remember that leadership starts from the top.
Once you start implementing this, it will slowly start to trickle to the rest of the team.
Whilst there are many benefits to remote work, one of the downsides is staff not getting the gratification they’re used to. Luckily, this is one quick and easy fix.
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