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The benefit of emojis and GIFs in business communication

Sophia Ellis
Mär 09, 2017

The line between work and social life has been all but erased with the onset of social media at work and increasingly mobile business communication. Our personalities and emotions are no longer separate from our professional personas. Absolutely, the professional and social worlds have collided but, aside from what some are warning, it’s not going to “ruin” us.

There are real, measurable benefits to the increasingly casual form of communication that has become the norm of the most innovative businesses. More and more, companies are trying to follow suit. One of the biggest positive changes is the implementing online organization/task management platforms and group chat in the office. The result is a collaborative environment that fosters easily-shared new ideas, proven increased productivity, and a stronger sense of community. The latter is particularly key. 🔑

The formality-free communication style of work chat is just the 21st-century version of the once widely-understood “water cooler socializing”. It’s the new way we build employee relationships and company culture — virtually. Remote teams and telecommuters can now stay in the social circle as well.


Just like in the casual conversations that used to be in-office, the informal style of speech, jokes, and sharing of personal emotions has to be expressed somewhere in our new virtual office space (please appreciate the reference). GIFs and emojis within chats at work reinstate the purely social bonding of teams that we otherwise would be missing. Without in-person interaction, there’s little emotional dimension to our messages at work which can tax employee engagement and relationships. According to a market research study, 72 percent of 18–25 year olds, who are quickly making their way into the office, agree that they find it easier to express emotions using emojis. It’s part of bonding and socializing at work.

Informal, visual communication affects productivity as well, but not in the negative way you might assume. Social platforms are more conducive to the fast, innovative, and personal style of business that is our new preference.

In a recent study, Warwick Business School in the UK observed that “employees who used various types of social media and digital modes of communication were more creative and collaborative at work, and thus more productive.”

Formal communication is being factored out in favor of informal methods which include emojis and GIFS because we simply work better this way.

There’s another practical value: Virtual symbols and visuals are great at capturing attention, sparking engagement, and making information stick in the minds of who you’re conveying it to. Recently, the NYPD has incorporated GIFs into their posts online to the public to try to increase engagement. Their likes have nearly tripled and their re-posts of public “call to action” posts have doubled. Even Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer charmed the Twitter community when she used a GIF to announce a recent large acquisition.

There is a certain transparency and personality conveyed through the use of GIFs and emojis that many of both the business and social media audiences appreciate. Informal (but widely accepted) communication tools with features like chat, emojis, and GIFs, are now proven to be trust-building, collaborative, and productivity-increasing in the workplace.

The shift towards a social and quick business communication style and all that comes with it is instrumental in creating what could be the most productive and innovative generation of companies yet.

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