More than 50pc say emojis speed up workplace communication, survey

A majority (67pc) of global respondents felt more bonded in a conversation when messaging a colleague who understands the emojis they use.

According to a global survey of workers by Slack and Duolingo, there are distinctive rules when it comes to using emojis in the workplace.

While 55pc of the 9,400 hybrid office workers surveyed said that emoji use helped speed up communication in the workplace, there are unwritten rules. Many of these involve bosses, however, there are also no-nos when it comes to appropriate emojis for conversations with co-workers.

When messaging a boss, the top three most off-limits emojis are the kiss mark (💋), the tongue (👅) and the poo (💩) emoji.

Respondents were three times as likely to “always” use emojis when messaging their co-workers compared with their boss (21pc vs. 7pc).

More than half of all survey respondents (56pc) said they won’t use a specific emoji unless the person they are messaging uses it first to show it’s acceptable to use.

The most off-limits emoji for co-workers was the eggplant emoji (🍆). Despite the perils associated with sending an off-limits emoji, there are benefits to their use. As well as speeding up communication in the workplace, 58pc of global employees surveyed said that using emojis at work them to communicate more nuance with fewer words.

A majority (67pc) of global respondents understand felt closer and more bonded in a conversation when messaging someone whos the emoji they use.

According to Olivia Grace, a senior director of product management Slack, emojis “let people convey a broad range of emotions efficacy, and in a way that words sometimes can’t. As we continue to embrace hybrid work from digital HQs, emojis help people acknowledge one another, clarify intent, and add a little colour, depth and fun to work.”

Slack and Duolingo commissioned the survey in honor of World Emoji Day, which falls on July 17. They got market research company OnePoll to conduct the survey of almost 9,400 workers distributed evenly across the US, the UK, Canada, France, Japan, China, Singapore, India, Germany, South Korea and Australia. The survey was carried out between June 15 and 27, 2022.

It found that, as well as unwritten rules, there are different ways to interpret emojis depending on the country.

For example, respondents were split on whether or not the “face throwing a kiss” (😘) emoji means “I love you” in a platonic or romantic sense. In the global results, platonic received 29pc of the vote, while romantic received 28pc.

US respondents were slightly more likely to use it in a romantic way (34pc vs. 26pc)—as were Indian respondents (52pc vs. 27pc). Japan was the opposite, however. Three in 10 Japanese respondents use the kissy face in a platonic sense, compared with 16pc who use it romantically.

Hope Wilson, learning and curriculum manager at Duolingo, said that “With virtual communication—especially work-related conversations over Slack—people from various countries and cultures, with different emoji styles and expectations, need emoji to help convey subtle meanings in real-time , often high-stakes situations. Emoji communication breakdowns happen for the same reasons as all language breakdowns.”

There is also a generational divide when it comes to emoji use. Globally, younger generations were more likely to report that their recipient misunderstood an emoji they’d sent (31pc of Gen Z and 24pc of Millennials). Those surveyed were also more likely to send an emoji to someone their age or younger, while 28pc of respondents don’t care about age when it comes to their emoji use.

WhatsApp, a tool that is often used in workplace communication, rolled out emoji reactions to messages in May. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of WhatsApp’s parent company Meta, recently announced that people would soon be able to react to messages with any emoji of their choice, not just six.

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