If you work in an office, it’s likely that you have a chat channel or an office general chat. These type of features make it much more convenient to talk to your colleagues, ask for help, and use as group messing. Regardless of if you’re using programs such as Skype, Google Hangouts, Slack, Nice Chat, or Flock—the rules remain the same.
DO: Pay Attention to the Channel’s Purpose
Easily the most important rule when it comes to the office chat is to remember what channel you’re in, why you’re in it, and what it’s used for. Each office chat has a purpose, so it is going to give a clear understanding of what’s happening inside of it.
It makes a lot of sense that a chat entitled “Project Updates” is likely the wrong place to upload pictures of your dogs or cats. You don’t want to fill the chat with spam, or even worse, come across as unprofessional.
DON’T: Make it Facebook
As you grow platonic relationships with your co-workers, it’s tempting to just chit-chat about how your weekend went, gossip about your other friends, or discuss your after-work-plans. However, you need to resist the urge.
As mentioned above there’s no need to use public channels to share with the entire office pictures from your weekend. Instead, try messaging the co-worker directly and sharing through a private chat.
DO: Know When You Need to Email
Communication within an office chat is great concerning work-related stuff—that’s what it’s designed for. Though, it is essential that you understand when it’s something you need to take to email instead.
Email is a powerful and professional mode of communication, and it makes it much easier to keep a “paper” trail. Instead of aimlessly searching through your chat to find an important memo from your team leader, you can just search your email and find it quicker.
DON’T: Talk Badly in an Office Chat
Office gossip is likely to happen regardless of the office that you work in, and the only thing you can do is try to avoid it. There’s a good chance that your manager can access chats if they see fit. It is challenging with some chat platforms more than others, but your chat needs to get used as if your boss is able to read the messages.
The best pieces of advice are to not say anything gossipy in the group chat, or wait until you leave the office if it’s that essential. Choose somewhere private with a co-worker so you can debrief.
DO: Know When to Communicate in Person
Constant back and forth chat can be taxing, dull, intense, and it’s good to know when you need to take that conversation face-to-face. Sometimes, it’s nice to get away from your desk to talk to people anyway.
If you need immediate feedback or it’s an emergency, don’t bite your fingernails at your as you wait for a response; stand up, walk over to your boss or colleague, and talk to them.
If you’re an introvert, don’t let it be your saving grace. Getting up to talk to people is a way to help you get used to speaking with others face-to-face.
DON’T: Spend All Your Time on It
This goes without saying, but when you are at work, you’re expected to do work. The office chat is designed to help you with your work and not as a way to distract you from it. It’s best to use it as sparingly as possible, and unless your job requires that you keep it open your entire shift, it’s also good to know when to log off.
You probably weren’t given a list of what is and isn’t appropriate for the office chat when you received your account, so the above tips can really help. If you have issues abiding by them, try putting yourself in your manager’s shoes—do you want to have all of your employees distracted by pet and weekend pictures? Probably not. Be professional and respectful of your other co-workers in the chat, and you are going to be fine.