Instant messaging, or texting, is one of the most used communication channels in the modern workplace. Use team chat apps the right way. Avoid the most common mistakes and be an effective communicator.  

1) Use team chat apps for quick and informal syncs

When to use team chat apps vs. email.Use chat apps for quick and informal syncs.1) Ask a question that implies a short answer.2) Align on an easy topic. Such as the time for a call.3) Share a link or a bite-size piece of information.4) Give a heads up. Such as for being late.5) Chat informally.6) Avoid them for formal communication. Such as with human resources or with clients.7) Avoid them for in-depth discussions.8) Avoid chats when you need to keep a record of the message.

Team chat apps work best for quick syncs. 

  • Ask a question that implies a short answer. 
  • Align on an easy topic. Such as the time for a call. 
  • Share a link or a bite-size piece of information. 
  • Give a heads up. Such as for being late.
  • Chat informally.

Chats work well for two or more persons. Work chat is faster than email and less formal.

Chat is the best channel for a collaborative discussion. It allows multiple persons to participate in quick syncs around a topic. Email is less effective, as it makes it harder to “jump in”.

Popular team chat apps:

  • Facebook Messenger.
  • Google Chat. 
  • Hipchat.
  • Mattermost.
  • Microsoft Teams. 
  • Slack. 
  • Stride.
  • Whatsapp.

2) Avoid team chat apps for formal or in-depth communication

If you need to keep a record of your message, do not use chat apps. Email is the preferred channel of communication. Chat messages are harder to store, retrieve, and forward. 

Email works better when the reader needs time to digest the information. Choose an email to discuss a topic in depth. Or to share a large amount of information. 

Avoid chat apps at work for these types of messages.

  • Write to human resources. 
  • Ask your manager for time off or budget.
  • Discuss issues in depth.
  • Make an offer to a client. 
  • Negotiate with a vendor.
  • Explain complex topics. 
  • Ask questions that imply a complex answer.
  • Finalize an agreement.
  • Share meeting minutes.

3) Chat apps should be used during working hours

Use team chat apps during working hours. Even if chat apps are an informal channel, it is best to avoid them outside work. Respect the personal time of your team members.

Avoid chat apps during meetings. It is perfect etiquette to answer late to a chat message if you are doing something else for work. 

4) Instant messaging is not for everyone

It is normal to use chat apps with senior managers. However, some managers may be more formal. Others may require more context when receiving a work communication. In such cases, prefer email. Use your judgment.

Chat apps are perfect to reach out to someone for the first time. Reaching out with an email is more formal. 

Chats are appropriate with vendors and clients. However, it is best to avoid them when you need to keep a record of the communication. 

5) Team chat apps do’s

  • Respect the normal workplace communication rules
  • Have a professional user profile. Use your name and last name. Use a professional photo.
  • Be concise. 
  • Move longer discussions to a different channel. Such as a call or a meeting
  • Be considerate. Anticipate how the other persons will interpret the message.
  • Keep personal and private separate.
  • Keep confidentiality with private chat channels. 
  • Wait for the other person to stop writing before you do. 
  • Set out-of-office notification if you are unavailable. 
  • Limit the use of emojis.

6) Team chat apps don’ts

  • Forget that team chat apps are a workplace communication channel.
  • Have an informal user profile. Avoid nicknames or wacky photos.
  • Write a lot. Be brief and concise. 
  • Send a message without checking the spelling. 
  • Write only a “hello” message. State what you want. Do not expect an immediate reply.
  • Add people to a channel without explaining why.
  • Bomb a chat with multiple messages. 
  • Abuse the “notify all” button.
  • Fill work chats with personal topics.
  • Use abusive language or stalk others.
  • Use too many emojis. More than 3 per chat is too many.
  • Write ALL CAPS. It is the chat equivalent of shouting.