Your guide to using emoticons at work (hint: avoid the heart)

When emoticons made their way into the world in 1982 in the form of a colon, dash, and right parentheses “:-)”, it would have been impossible to foresee how ubiquitous they would become. This brings us to 2017, where expressive content is used by millions to help get a message across—from explaining what food you’re craving in a group message with friends to expressing just how angry you are in a breakup. The world has even dedicated a full day to emojis, and at Microsoft we want to help you celebrate accordingly.

We are regularly presented with new ways to add stickers, GIFs, emoticons, emojis and more to daily communications, right at our fingertips. While we have all become accustomed to using emoticons as daily conversation tools, we were curious what you all thought about bringing emoticons into the workplace. Does sending a smiley face to your manager seem wildly inappropriate? At what point, and to whom, does the heart emoji go from friendly to creepy? Where do we draw the line?

We decided to dive into the emoticon debate to help shed some light on best practices and find out whether or not this expressive content is appropriate at work. Microsoft teamed up with survey company YouGov to get the answers from working millennials themselves. Long story short: emoticons are fair game.

As a result of this survey, we have determined a few best practices. Whether you are a millennial new to the workforce trying to determine what the norm is among peers, or part of an older generation looking to communicate more effectively with newcomers to the office, the following tips will help you navigate best practices.

Emoticons at work

Microsoft is happy to provide professionals of all generations with the tools to succeed in the workplace, through Skype, Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Outlook and more. All forms of creative content—whether it be Skype Mojis, emoticons or GIFs, on your laptop, mobile device or in emails—are now an essential tactic for top notch communication skills. Whatever your communication preference, we recommend you update to the latest version so that you can have all the content available at your fingertips. We look forward to continue providing new ways to express yourself in the future!