Put that phone down and read these rules of text etiquette at work! With the lines between personal life and work blurring all the time, chances are you are using your smartphone at your desk. In fact, chances are you are texting your buddies about meeting up for drinks at happy hour.
But you need to know how to handle texting relationships with your boss, colleagues and others in your professional orbit. This is not your group text with your buddies from college. Also, and I cannot stress this enough, keep your romantic texting as far away from this environment as possible. In fact, keep all your romantic aspirations out of the workplace.
Now, onto the new normal of texting.
Know Who and When to Text
Has your boss texted you in the past? If so, you probably have the go-ahead to send a text. But be very careful with what you say and how you say it. It is always best to use the say-it-out-loud rule: if you are not comfortable yelling the comment as loud as you can for the whole office to hear, probably don’t text it. To your boss or anyone else in your office.
Know When To Spell it Out
All the kids these days with their LOLs and their emojis. It is time to curb that disturbingly millennial practice. Not everyone in the workplace shares your affinity for tiny cute pictures and indecipherable acronyms. You can tell how old I am by the fact that I used LOL as the example. That has been around so long that it is almost certainly part of the Oxford English dictionary at this point. Yet it still has no place in workplace texting.
Keep It Brief
No one wants a #longform text. The point of short messages is that they get it done quickly and succinctly. If it takes more than two sentences to get your point across, switch to email. It will be better received and the olds with limited text message plans will thank you. Plus, your boss probably needs really strong glasses to read the font on his phone, so don’t make him stare too long.
Use Autocorrect At Your Peril
You don’t want to end up on one of these lists. Check, double check and triple check any texts that your are sending to your boss or co-workers. An unfortunate typo can lead to terrible consequences. Not just an awkward Monday morning meeting with HR. But a diminished relationship, loss of status or delegation to the realm of the “unserious” young worker. Trust me, you don’t want that. Learning text etiquette at work is one of the best ways to establish yourself as more mature than the average millennial.
Texting For The Weekend
Maybe the weekend should be off-limits. Unless you have established a legit relationship with someone at work (like you have been to their house for dinner or drinks) keep any weekend texting extremely short and totally work-related.
Try to Text When It Is Urgent
The phone is with you all the time. If you need an quick answer to a current problem, text. If it can wait a little while, go with the email. Here is an example: If you are stuck in bumper to bumper traffic and you have 5 minutes to get to work, as long as your boss is cool with texting, let him/her know your whereabouts with a text.
Be Careful With the Group Text
Know who is on the recipient list at all times. Especially if you plan to delve into non-professional meme-sharing or other shenanigans with colleagues. It is important that you not share that inappropriate Bachelor picture with a superior, unless you have established a super casual relationship already. And even if you have, tread lightly.
Ignore All These Rules
How and when to text depends almost entirely on your company culture and the relationships you have with co-workers and superiors. If you are ensconced in a legacy institution, biding your time until the digital revolution eliminates all old-school jobs and remakes the economy, follow all the rules above. If you are at a tech company formed over the last 10 years, chances are that you use texting almost more than regular conversation. Proceed accordingly.
Find Out What Is Expected of You
If you are at one these aforementioned millennial factories, figure out how quickly you need to respond to a text or communication. Your boss will set the text etiquette tone for you. If their eyes are downcast constantly, examining every little notification that comes across their screen, expect that you are going to held to a similar standard.
Here is the bottom line: If you think you need to text a work colleague or superior, take a few minutes to think it through. Can it wait? Tell them tomorrow at the office. Is it a pressing issue? Think about email first. If it just and FYI thing and you think your boss needs to know, email it. Is it super-urgent? Text, but make it spelling-error and emoji-free.