With remote work on the rise, instant messaging in chat-based workspace apps is rapidly becoming the go-to business communication method. Instant messaging at work lets you use dynamic tools that can help foster conversation and collaboration across teams, projects, and organizations

Whether you work in the same room as your teammates, a cubicle away, or across an ocean, maintaining a robust, respectful chat etiquette can help you boost productivity, engagement, and connection with colleagues. It even can help improve your wellbeing andhealth

Today’s chat and IM tools offer everything from task management, file sharing, and real-time collaboration to private messaging, video conferencing, and online meetings. Unfortunately, this explosion of communication options creates the potential for workplace misunderstandings, churn, or worse—including drops in productivity, low morale, and business risks

No matter what your role, knowing your company’s chat and online meeting etiquette is a must. Efficiently managing your channels, meetings, and instant messaging at work can help you minimize distractions and overstimulation while increasing efficiency and job satisfaction. Maintaining a respectful chat etiquette also can help foster accessibility, inclusivity, and equity

What should you consider before you bring the ping? Here are some best practices for messaging your colleagues on a workplace chat platform:
• None Choose the right mode. Should you send an email, an IM, or a meeting invite? Choose which to use based on workstreams, recipient, and topic. Here are some rules of thumb:
• None Use IM or chat for internal teams and ongoing collaborations, but use email for summarizing projects with external working groups or stakeholders

• None Move rapid back-and-forth conversations from email threads to quick IMs. This reduces email clutter and spares everyone’s full inboxes (including yours)

• None If written IMs prove unclear, offer to jump on a quick voice call. Sometimes this the fastest way to resolve an issue and show that you value other people’s time

• None Set notifications so that you respond quickly. It’s good chat etiquette to configure your notifications so that you see all of your messages and mentions and respond in a timely manner. You can also save, bookmark, and pin important chat conversations. If you get overwhelmed by notifications, toggle off all but your highest priorities

• None Familiarize yourself with accessibility guidelines. Being inclusive and making sure every voice is heard isn’t just good professional communication etiquette, it also helps to nurture collaboration and improve your team’s productivity

• None Second that emotion—but with restraint. Many workplace chat apps feature Many workplace chat apps feature emojis, memes, stickers, and GIFs . When it comes to injecting some fun into your digital conversations, a little goes a long way. Try to match your emoji, meme, and GIF usage to the rest of your team. You don’t want to be “that” person. 😛
• None Use sentiment and reactions appropriately. The thumbs-up button—often thought of as the “like” button—can help you close the loop on conversations faster, with less back-and-forth. Use it to convey “understood,” “okay,” or “will do.” Use the “love,” “laugh,” “wow,” “cry,” or “mad” sentiments more sparingly, depending on your team’s norms

• None Respect your coworkers’ availability status. Never ping a colleague who’s set themselves as unavailable—unless they’ve expressly asked you to. And be sure that your own availability status is current so that no one messages you during a presentation or when you’re out of the office

Group IM conversations have their own unique chat etiquette. These quick tips can help you keep your group chats efficient and help everyone involved stay on task:
• None Tag (also known as @mention) group members when you need a response. Be aware, though, that tagging is commonly associated with a call to action and can seem bossy if not used with discretion. Don’t @mention someone unless you really need to

• None Tag new members to welcome them to the group. They’ll get a notification, which will help them return to the conversation later. If your platform allows it, share the chat history with new members. It’ll save everyone time in getting new members up to speed

• None Keep messages short and concise. Ensure that there’s some value in every chat message you send

• None Acknowledge receipt. Use the thumbs-up or “like” button to let others know that you got or agree with their message

• None Remember that tone doesn’t always translate. Do keep your IMs brief, but be careful not to be brusque

• None Avoid repeating yourself. Many chat platforms let you search through conversation histories. Spare your colleagues from having to answer the same question twice by searching for an answer first

• None Name your group chat if your platform allows it. Doing so will make it easier for group members to distinguish your chat from other threads

Sending IMs to your colleagues can help you stay agile, especially when it comes to high-priority projects. Doing so also helps to create a virtual water cooler that enhances camaraderie

A few professional communication etiquette tips to keep in mind for private chats:
• None Use them for brainstorming, private asides, and impromptu follow-ups. But when a private conversation starts getting into larger team decisions, it’s time to carry it over to a group chat or an email thread

• None Nix the greetings. No need to start a chat with “Hi, how are you “Quick question,” or “Do you have a second?” While it may seem abrupt to simply lead with your question, it’s actually a courtesy that lets your colleague reply on their own terms

• None Have fun and be social! Private chats are a great place to let your personality and shine and make meaningful connections with your close colleagues. So unleash the GIFs, release the puppy pics, and share that recipe for perfect pizza crust

Online meetings have become the new normal for businesses, regardless of industry. Here are some tips for video conferencing and online meeting etiquette:
• None Always join on mute. Be aware of camera and microphone settings before you enter a meeting. Don’t be the person that everyone can hear chewing their lunch

• None Use video when possible. Yes, video uses extra internet resources, but it can give you a more satisfying experience and help you and your colleagues feel more connected in meetings

• None Limit visual distractions. Sit in front of a neutral wall, curtain, or bookshelf. Use virtual backgrounds judiciously, too, as they can be jarring if they’re too busy or render poorly

• None Use the chat feature to ask questions and share resources. Typing your questions or suggestions in the chat helps reduce crosstalk and other disruptions. It also saves resources in the chat history for later reference

• None Pay attention to visibility when sharing your screen. Familiarize yourself with how to maximize your screen and zoom in on images so that everyone can see what you’re sharing

Learn more about instant messaging at work

Understanding chat and online meeting etiquette can help you improve collaboration, productivity, and engagement with your colleagues, whether you work alongside one another or you work together virtually. Get more professional communication etiquette tips by taking a guided tour of Microsoft Teams—the chat-based workspace app that lets you meet, chat, call, and collaborate all in one place

Learn more about instant messaging > Learn more about online meetings >