“Hey! How are you? OMG you’ll never guess what I did last night!”
Appropriate message for your company’s team chat software? If you answered ‘yes,’ think again.
Technology is making it easy to blur the lines of office etiquette these days. While the social aspect of a workplace is important for employee well-being and engagement, it is still a business and work needs to get done.
Team chat software is a business-first platform that empowers employees be more productive and more engaged.
So, before you hit send, read this unofficial etiquette guide to using workplace chat.
Better yet, print it out and put it up in your office.
1) Keep it (Mostly) All Business
Team chat software was designed for quick communication. In business, especially in industries where frontline employees are on the move, the brevity and immediacy of chats allow workers to resolve issues faster and be more productive.
Office friendships are important for employee engagement and experience, and chat communication can help create an environment that fosters connections. To keep things moving along and productivity at its peak, don’t go overboard on the casual conversations over chat.
Send a personal direct message when you take a break, or swap stories over lunch. But keep business chat mostly business.
Ready to get down to business with team chat software? Download our eBook, How to Choose the Best Team Collaboration Software.
2) Use Spell Check
There’s something about that chat box that gives the medium a more casual vibe. But that’s not a license to let your grammar slide. Sloppiness does reflect on your work, even if it’s in a quick message. Use proper grammar, don’t abbreviate, and check your spelling.
3) NEVER USE ALL CAPS AND EXCESSIVE PUNCTUATION!!!
Ever since email has existed, communication has been lost in digital translation. All caps became synonymous with yelling even if it was just the sender’s way of showing excitement.
All caps in a chat message really does rub people the wrong way. Craft sentences with the correct use of upper and lower case.
4) You Can’t Unsend a Message
Chat software, especially if it’s on a mobile device, makes it all too easy to type fast and loose. Think before you type, especially if you’re reacting and responding to a message that’s spiked your blood pressure (like, if the last person sent you a chat in all caps.)
You might send a message you regret. Wait until the urge to type passes, or arrange a time to go speak with the sender in person.
Pro Tip: Think before you type.
5) Reply Only to Relevant People
Ahh – the old ‘reply all’. It’s been an office pet peeve since the early days of email. And it’s amazing that some people still make this workplace faux pas. If you are replying to a business group chat that is relevant to just the sender or another individual, address them privately.
6) Don’t Send Too Many Messages
It’s easy to use a company’s instant messaging platform to drop a quick note to a colleague. And another, and another…and another. Even if your message is work related, compile your thoughts into a single, coherent thought in one message.
People already spend more than a quarter of their day on email. Excessive chats are a distraction and a productivity squasher. Consolidate your thoughts and write one note. Your colleague will be more responsive that way. They’ll mute your communication if you overuse the send button.
7) Use Direct Messaging for Important Notes
Team chat software serves a purpose. It’s designed for fast, short information delivery that can pop up on the recipient’s computer or mobile device. It’s perfect for items that need attention asap. People often read chats while they’re on the move.
For information that needs deeper attention, make sure to send a direct message over an employee app.
8) Don’t LOL, BRB, TTYL or
Yes, your cat emojis are fun. They’re adorable. But they’re just not appropriate for business group chats. And one study says they even make employees look incompetent.
In person, it’s easy to interpret verbal cues and read body language. There’s no way to make up for those in a chat so don’t try to fill that gap with emojis.
9) Don’t Set Meetings Over IM
Chats move fast and important information can get lost in the lineup. When you need to set up a meeting with someone, always use your calendar to send an invitation and get confirmation.
Pro Tip: Keep your work chats clear, concise, and all about business.
10) Keep it Brief
Like most IM applications, team chat software is designed for brief interactions. Think of it as the fast food of workplace tech. Make sure your message is concise but clear. Keep it short and sweet over chat. Save the deeper conversation for email or in person.
11) Introduce Yourself First
Some organizations are large. Before you use workplace chat to send a message to a colleague you haven’t met, make sure you send an introductory greeting and say who you are before you jump right in to work. This is a friendlier approach and often gets a better response than just telling them what you need.
12) Use Chat Software Designed for Business
Employees these days are tech savvy and use chat apps every day. In the office they should only use the dedicated business app for internal messaging.
Team chat software designed strictly for business is more secure, has a higher recipient capability, and has features specifically for the workplace. For instance, Beekeeper has a read-receipt function so the sender can receive confirmation that their chat has been read.
13) Respect the Do Not Disturb Sign
If an employee has their chat status set to ‘away’ or ‘busy’ then respect their boundaries and wait to send your message. That is a deliberate move that translates to “please don’t send me chats.” It will only irk the recipient to have IMs waiting for them when they come back.
14) Save the Heavy Stuff for In Person
Never use chat to deliver bad news or share confidential information. Save deep conversations for face-to-face. Think about how you would like to receive important information. It’s dismissive and disrespectful to use IM to deliver heavy stuff. No, you should definitely not announce your resignation in a group chat.
15) Your Chats Are Like Zombies…They Live On
Just because you close your chat window or cleared your content doesn’t mean your messages are gone. Your chats are alive and well and living in the cloud. Remember that every time you type a message. Never send a message to someone that can come back to haunt you.
Chat apps are the best way to handle time-sensitive matters and deliver fast communication. When they’re misused, it slows down productivity, distracts workers, and stops the flow of important communication.
When you really need to connect with colleagues on a personal level, send them a text or shoot them an email. Or better yet — go old school and meet at the water cooler.