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Should You Use Emojis at Work?

Simple smiley faces just got a whole lot more complicated.

By Emma Steinbergs

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that goes for emojis, too. Sometime since their inception in the late 1990s, these tiny images have become a ubiquitous part of day-to-day communication. Compared to formal writing systems, emojis may seem inconsequential, but they’re now embedded in written language across the globe. In 2015, Oxford Dictionaries even deemed “😂” its word of the year.

While emojis are omnipresent, their meanings can change from one person to the next. In my own life, I’ve noticed that emoji usage and interpretation vary greatly, often depending on a person’s age.

I asked individuals from three different generations to define four popular emojis. The verdict? Know thy audience.🤓

Turns out, these small symbols aren’t so simple. They are, however, increasingly important—even in the workplace. According to a survey conducted by messaging app Slack, 53% of respondents say they include an emoji when they message their coworkers. Emojis are integral to how we express and read emotion in casual conversations with not only our friends and family members but also our colleagues.

Just a couple of months ago, M.M. team members got into an impassioned (but friendly) Slack debate over the 🙂 emoji. Does it express passive-aggressive annoyance or genuine, gentle amiability?

A screenshot from the M.M.LaFleur Slack workspace.

We were divided. To settle this dispute, we created a poll for our team and our Instagram followers. The verdict: The majority agreed that 🙂 is a friend, not a foe.

A screenshot from the M.M.LaFleur Slack workspace.

An M.M.LaFleur Instagram post.

While emojis can spark unexpectedly heated debate, at the end of the day, most people seem to give one another the benefit of the doubt and favor a positive interpretation. So as a pro-emoji workplace, we’re here to urge you not to be shy about using emojis when you’re on the job. Here are five reasons to embrace using emojis at work:


They’re entertaining and humorous.

Cartoon-like and exaggerated, emojis are designed to be fun. Inject your day with moments of joy like splurging on a spiced latte or building a friendly connection with a colleague via a goofy emoji. These small actions can subconsciously go a long way.


They’re a way to express your personality.

I regularly get a kick out of how other M.M. team members utilize emojis. Many colleagues clearly have their favorites, and some have created custom emojis, reflecting their own wonderfully weird sense of humor. Case in point: Nicholas Cage’s face superimposed on a dancing parrot.

A screenshot from the M.M.LaFleur Slack workspace.


They don’t clutter the Slack channel.

If you use Slack at work, you can acknowledge messages by simply reacting with an emoji. Try 👍, 🙌, or . This prevents the message from being buried when everyone wants to respond in a large channel.


They add a boost of color to routine conversation.

For the most part, we stare at black text on a white background all day long. But with emojis, you can incorporate a bit of color, which is associated with joy and is even proven to enhance memory. ️‍️‍🌈


They’re an easy way to show your colleagues appreciation.

Not everything needs an in-depth response. Leave beautifully worded notes for the moments that really deserve them, and use emojis to show positive affirmations in quick chats. It’s an easy way to spread some love with minimal effort! ❤️

Written By

Emma Steinbergs

Emma is M.M.LaFleur's Brand Manager. She previously worked as an M.M. stylist and still loves thinking through styling challenges and solutions for customers.

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