Messaging platforms like Slack can enable quick and convenient communication, but there are also a host of pitfalls to avoid.
While every person and workplace is different, here’s what to keep in mind when using systems like this so you don’t offend or annoy your coworkers — or worse, get fired.
Remember, they’re not private
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Your private office messages are Definitely. Not. Private. Just know that if you’re sending things that your employer would find questionable, there really is a chance that you could be found out.
So don’t write anything you wouldn’t want your employer to see – Slack reportedly stands for “Searchable Log of All Communication and Knowledge,” after all.
Don’t choose the wrong GIF!
Everyone interprets GIFs in their own way, so make sure that the ones you choose don’t come off as NSFW, or “not safe for work.” Luckily, Slack can help you with this.
LifeHacker provides details.
“Slack has a very popular plugin that allows users to post a GIF by typing /giphy [search term]. The plugin finds a GIF on the GIPHY service that’s tagged with the term you search for, and puts it up. This is cool, but you don’t get to review what GIF it posts. That means you can get some pretty suggestive GIFs, or at least GIFS with some sort of unintended meaning, since the GIFs the integration provides are G-rated by default. So, y’know, be judicious with that command. This can be changed to allow you to review the GIF before posting, but that option isn’t turned on by default,” the media outlet reports.
The same thing goes for emojis: make sure they’re work-appropriate and be aware of the person whom you are addressing.
Keep very important conversations off messaging…
Some discussions are just not for the virtual world.
“IM is too casual a medium to have an important conversation, particularly one that’s negative. For example, you should not IM a colleague or employee that they have not been chosen for a project. It’s difficult to know what tone you’re giving off in a short message, so Pachter says it’s safer to stick to only neutral or good news when sending an online chat to people in your professional network,” the publication reports.
…as well as confidential information
The same thing applies here.
Richie Fusco, an office manager for a securities firm in New York City, told Monster what to be aware of during IM sessions.
“When you’re instant messaging, always be aware that you’re on an unsecured line. I’m always careful not to discuss confidential or sensitive information over an instant message, because it’s just too easy for pirates to hack into old conversation logs. And I always make sure that my virus and spyware protection is up to date,” Fusco said.
Don’t overdo it during off-hours
Everyone deserves time away from work messaging platforms once they’re off for the day, so be selective in your usage of them after work.
Fast Company reports on how to approach Slack messaging when the workday has come and gone.
“Given that Slack is a work tool, it’s best to keep night and weekend slacking to a minimum. With all our gadgets and their pings and push notifications, it’s already hard enough to switch off from work for the night or week. If you do need to be active on a public channel during the night or at weekends, at least try to keep the @channel and @everyone mentions to a minimum so your team members won’t be bothered with notifications on their time off,” the publication says.