Do emojis belong in the workplace? You decide

Wednesday 22 June 2022
It’s 25 years since the first digital faces appeared in writing. Should they be banned from work emails, or are they a great way to express things you can’t replicate with words?
Emoji monkeys: speak, hear and see no evil

World Emoji Day 📅 is on 17 July, and 2022 marks 25 years since the first faces appeared in digital writing.

Back in the late 1990s, around the same time that emoticons – sideways faces made out of punctuation, such as 🙂 or :’( – were developing in the early Anglophone internet chatrooms, another form of digital face was starting to catch on in Japan: kaomoji (literally “face characters”). These are similar to emoticons, but not turned sideways: ¯(ツ)/¯.

Gradually, it became more and more popular to send picture messages on mobile phones, but this used up a lot of data. So, to address this problem, in 1997 Japanese company SoftBank decided to encode 90 of the most commonly used pictures as the equivalent of text characters – meaning, for example, that you just had to type in the code 2764 to display a heart ❤️. 

It wasn’t just a fad. By 2010, 608 symbols had been standardised and incorporated into Unicode. Wanting to appeal to the Japanese market, Apple and Android then introduced emoji capabilities to their phones in the early 2010s. By 2015, the 😂 emoji had surpassed the 🙂 emoticon – and emojis (e “picture” + moji “character”) as we know them today have only grown in scope and popularity since.

They’ve embedded themselves in our lives so thoroughly that it’s hard to imagine life without them. And given the proliferation of remote and flexible working, many of us are now communicating more with our colleagues in writing than vocally. It raises the question of whether emojis, GIFs and stickers are appropriate at work – or not… 

What do you think?

Read on for some food for thought and let us know what you think on social! 📣

Want to learn more about successful employee engagement?


If you are already registered as a CMI Friend, Subscriber or Member, just login to view this article.

Confirm your registration

Login below to confirm your details and access this article.


Please confirm that you want to switch off the "Sign in with email" remember me feature.

Register for Free Access

Not yet a Member, Subscriber or Friend? Register as a CMI Friend for free, and get access to this and many other exclusive resources, as well as weekly updates straight to your inbox.

You have successfully registered

As a CMI Friend, you now have access to whole range of CMI Friendship benefits.

Please login to the left to confirm your registration and access the article.