Rules of Office Texting Etiquette

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Learn how to educate employees on appropriate work text etiquette as well as the best ways to enforce your organization's policy.

Etiquette Rules For Texting At Work

Phones in 2019 can be a distraction to the say the least. The most recent studies show that Americans check their phones an average of 80 times a day!

With that fact in mind, there’s one undeniable truth: like it or not, cellphones have found their way into the workplace. So, as an employer, how can you lean into that and turn it into something advantageous? And, as an employee, how can you ensure that you’re following proper “textiquette”?

Our solution comes in the form of welcoming professional text messaging into the workspace. We’ll explore best practices for bringing texting into your professional world as well as cover some essential do’s and don’ts for sending work-appropriate texts.

What is Proper Texting Etiquette For Work?

We’ll begin by saying that what is appropriate for each workspace varies. The rules at Barstool Sports, for example, are probably a lot different than that the ones at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. It’s always best workplace communication practice to consult with your HR department before trying anything new.

That being said, there are some foundational text etiquette rules that any kind of organization could benefit from following:

  • Avoid sending texts outside of business hours.
  • Texts should be limited to things that require a quick response.
  • Do not text confidential or HIPPA protected information. If you wouldn’t post it on the company newsletter, don’t text it.
  • Proofread/spellcheck your messages. Even though they’re short they shouldn’t be messy. Also avoid too many abbreviations common in casual text speak (lmao, omg, “k”, etc.).
  • Do not send texts during meetings unless given permission.
  • Keep it brief. If what you need to say can’t be summed up in a sentence or two it may be better to call.
  • Avoid or minimize use of emojis.
  • Reply promptly, and never leave a message without a response unless otherwise directed.
  • Avoid texting as first point of contact with a colleague or client.
  • Send texts to individuals unless a group text is absolutely mandatory. Only hit “reply all” when it’s something that absolutely everyone in the thread needs to see.
  • Put your phone away unless you’re using it. Having it out, lighting up can be distracting for you and others.

How Do You Follow Proper Messaging Etiquette?

Now that you know the most basic rules, let’s talk about the best ways to enforce them. In this case, awareness is the name of the game. You can’t expect people to follow rules they don’t know about, even if most of them are common courtesy. It’s always better to over explain than under.

Here are a few easy ways you can take your newly created business sms policy and share that information with your employees:

  1. Put it in your policy: Work with HR to make an actual list of work text rules that employees agree to follow. When a new employee joins the team ensure that they sign off their understanding and agreement on the policy.
  2. Train your team: In addition to including it in onboarding paperwork, ensure that text training is included in new employee orientation. Set up refresher courses, either online or in person, for all employees to keep the policy top of mind.
  3. Bookmark it: Whether it’s a bulletin board or a digital tool like Slack, your organization has some kind of internal communications medium. Ensure that your texting policy is pinned somewhere anyone can find and reference it at any time.

Benefits of Using Texts For Professional Communication

If these rules left you feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath. While it’s important to go over them, it’s equally as important to review what makes it all worth it. After all, we wouldn’t have built a business centric to texting if we didn’t believe in its remarkable capabilities!

In fact, most of the text etiquette rules are less about limiting liability, and more about encouraging the kind of behavior that makes professional text message communication effective!

A few of the benefits text messages can have professionally include:

  • Faster response times to questions that lead to faster decision making, better customer support, and overall increased efficiency.
  • The ability to connect instantaneously with people around the world.
  • It’s a convenient way for employees and customers to reach you (4.68 billion people have cell phones).
  • Higher read and response rates than email.
  • Fosters a sense of intimacy between communicators that builds and strengthens professional relationships.

We could go on and on. In fact, we already have:

[Read: The Benefits of Texting]

How Can Texting Make Professional Communication More Efficient?

Businesses are almost always looking for ways to work more efficiently. Technology has undeniably (and at times controversially) helped in doing just that. Texting is no exception.

When it comes to making professional communication more efficient, texting does so thanks to two things: its speed and its reach. Efficiency is most synonymously associated with working faster, so we’ll begin there.

Texts are read quickly— 95% are read within three minutes. Faster access leads to faster responses— average response time to a text message is around 90 seconds. And when you’re not stuck waiting around for a response (email takes on average 90 minutes to receive one) you spend less time stuck on a task or project. Faster information sharing gives way to more efficient work.

Equally as effective in boosting efficiency it the sheer reach of SMS. As we already mentioned, close to 5 billion people are texting on mobile devices. GSMA Intelligence predicts that number will increase to 6 billion by 2025. Thanks to advancements in things like VoIP technology, a mere internet connection can connect all 6 billion of these people through texting. How’s that for breaking down professional communication barriers?

Tips For Keeping Work Texts Professional

Bringing it back full circle, we’ll close with some final helpful hints for finding the right voice in your professional texts. Our biggest piece of advice is, even though texting may feel casual, you always want to keep professional text messages formal. That means including your name, proper salutations, and proper regards.

Other tips for keeping work texts professional include:

  • Securing permission before sending your text (in the case of client or customer communication, this is oftentimes a legal requirement and not just a courtesy).
  • Don’t text about anything non-work related. Especially another employee/client’s performance or appearance. Stay focused on your topic.
  • Do not use texting as a platform for negotiating things like salary.
  • Avoid racially or sexually charged topics entirely.
  • Do not respond to or engage with an inappropriate text. Instead, speak directly with the responsible party or a supervisor to deal with the situation.
  • Utilize a text marketing platform (like SimpleTexting) in order to ensure records are kept of all text communications.

If you have any questions about how a platform like us can help you introduce and facilitate a professional text message program within your organization, reach out. We’ve seen plenty of success across industries, and we’d be happy to help you realize your internal and external communication goals.

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