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Etiquette tips for using instant messaging services at work

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These days, digital communication at work is becoming much more common. This is in part due to the current COVID-19 pandemic forcing many offices to close their doors and move to remote working. However, even before this, many companies started to realize the wealth of benefits to be gained from using services such as instant messengers specifically designed for the workplace. Of course, in order to make the most out of these tools, it is important to know how to use them appropriately and effectively. Here are some top tips to help you out.

Tailor your communication according to who you’re talking to

The way you speak to your work best friend in an email is going to be different from the way you speak to your boss in an email, and it should be the same for instant messages. This is true regardless of what messaging tool you’re using – see mattermost.com for some great alternatives to Slack if you’re shopping around! Tailor the way you speak to suit the person you’re contacting. If it’s a new channel, scroll up to get a sense of the style that’s appropriate.

Don’t neglect your spelling and grammar

Instant messaging might be less formal than email, but that’s no reason to start using text speak! Not only does it look unprofessional, but it can also make your messages more difficult to read and understand. You’re usually not constrained by a character limit, so keep to proper spelling and grammar. Of course, you can definitely use informal language where appropriate, though.

Send fewer and longer messages

Every message you send to someone generates a notification, so instead of sending three separate messages in short succession, it’s better to send one long one with all the information contained within it. Make these quick and easy to read by using bold text, italics, and bullet points – don’t think of these messages like emails; they can be much shorter, more informal, and more concise.

Use emojis – but carefully

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using emojis on instant messaging services, even in a work context. In fact, it’s positively encouraged to make messages easier to read and keep the tone light. Having said that, you don’t want to be the person who takes it too far! Don’t go overboard, but instead use them sparingly to make an impact or ensure the tone of a message is upbeat. They can also help to make your messages clear to read and understand.

Be respectful of working hours and other people’s availability status

One of the difficulties with using instant messaging services in the workplace is that it increases the pressure people feel always to be available. Use ‘do not disturb’ functions outside of working hours, and if you send a message to somebody else after work has finished, then make it clear in the text that you don’t expect an instant response. It’s a good idea not to use instant messaging apps for work on your personal devices if possible, to help keep a clear boundary between work and home.

 

 

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