The New Normal: Texting as a Workplace Tool

Matt| August 27, 2015| Managers

You might think of text messaging as the mode of communication junior high kids use to break off romantic relationships.

However, texting is increasingly becoming a perfectly acceptable way to communicate in the workplace. In fact, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is well-known for regularly tapping away at her mobile device. Hence, if texting is efficient enough for high-level politicians, it should be good enough for your workplace as well.

While cheaper texting prices in Europe led to a quicker adoption of the communication mode across the Atlantic, Americans are beginning to get on board. In fact, the International Smartphone Mobility Report from earlier this year tracked Americans’ mobile phone habits. Americans spent 26 minutes per day texting and six minutes per day on voice calls.

Texting in the Office: a time and place

Despite the growing popularity and legitimacy of texting, many workplaces don’t have a substantial policy regarding its use. In fact, most employers associate texting with personal use and have a singular rule about texting – don’t do it.

While you should be starting to incorporate texting into your company’s communications arsenal, it’s important that it be confined to the appropriate time and place.

Prohibit staff from reading or writing text messages while they happen to be in company meetings. Additionally, caution employees against job-related texts becoming a distraction when they are conversing verbally or doing something that requires their full attention. These rules force employees to stay in the moment and engage with the task directly in front of them.

Texts should not be intrusive. Ask employees if you can text their personal phones. If employees don’t want to be contacted this way consider issuing them a company phone. However, texts to company phones should be limited to business hours.

Emojis and Other No-nos

In addition to laying out when and where it’s okay to text, provide guidelines on the appropriate tone and content of company texts.

Employees should never use custom abbreviations, slang or emojis. Experts suggest having employees regard each text as a written letter, with the appropriate tone, salutation, grammar and punctuation.

In addition to the content, have policies regarding the purpose of texts. They should never be used to send bad news or submit a resignation. The tone of a text, such as formal or sarcastic, is usually difficult to tell. Therefore, have employees deliver these types of messages over the phone or face-to-face.

Avoid using texts to make scheduling changes. Without any way to know if a person received the text, confirm any schedule-related changes via conversation. Should text be your only available option, be sure to request a text confirming the change has been received.

Finally, some phones have voice-to-text applications. Employees should be told to double-check any message generated by these apps before sending. Speech-recognition technology is still flawed, and therefore speech-to-text programs are vulnerable to literally sending the wrong message.

At Long Island Temps we understand the value of clear communication. While we prefer to communicate with clients via telephone and email, there are a number of ways to reach us should you be seeking high-quality staffing solutions. Don’t hesitate to contact us today.