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GIF guide

GIF Guide in the Virtual Workplace

Reading Time: 4 minutes

***Disclaimer: This GIF Guide does not take into consideration management with a lack of humor and should not be used without thorough consideration of the workplace. 

They call me the GIF queen, a nickname I proudly carry in our company, and have earned through excessive use of GIFs as well as emojis during most internal communication.

Twenty-first-century communication consists of a lot of basic instant messaging or emailing.

The biggest issue with this type of communication is the lack of personality, style, and nonverbal behaviors that help you build trust and great relationships within your workplace. We all know how hard it is to translate the perfect tone or gesture when communicating via messages. Those awkward moments when you aren’t sure if your boss was serious and you must quickly explain yourself, or if your boss just thinks he has a great sense of humor and you’re supposed to do the usual “hahahaha” without too many “ha’s” and definitely no use of the famous “LOL”, you know, to keep it professional.

Thankfully, with remote work and globalization, the business world has slowly developed an unofficial etiquette when it comes to internal virtual communication.

I am here to teach you about one of those unofficial etiquettes; internal communication via instant messaging or email using GIFs and emojis.

Without getting into too much detail on the history and details of GIFs, mostly because it is way too confusing and highly irrelevant, the most important thing to know is that a GIF is an animated image that relays some sort of message such as a gesture, tone, or expression.

The second most important thing to know about GIFs is the fact that some, such as the creators of GIFs, would say GIF is pronounced with a soft “G” /dʒɪf/ as in “gym” rather than a hard G as in “gift”. I am here to tell you that those people are wrong and to help me better express my opinion about the soft G pronunciation I will use the following GIF:


If you are thinking: “My God this sounds like a great way to express myself and increase strong communication within our virtual workplace!“, you are correct. If you are also thinking the more the merrier you are horribly wrong. There are three different levels of personalized messaging communication and it is important to check which level you are starting with, in order to know how to best use GIFs. If you jump too quickly you may get overwhelmed with personalization and the message may not be received well.

The first level would be the Personalization Newbie.

This is someone who does not use emojis, stickers, and especially not GIFs during their messaging communication. The messages are straight to the point with as little personalization as possible. For our Newbie, I would advise starting with small usage of emojis. Maybe starting with a few smiles :blush: and eventually moving on to some of my favorites such as the “Did you see this message” emoji :eyes: or the “Thank God it’s Friday” 🎉  emoji.

The second level would be Intermediate Personalization.

This would be someone comfortable with emoji use, someone, who frequently uses emojis to add a little personalization to their messages. You may even see a GIF or two occasionally if they are really inspired. In this case, I would advise starting with more frequent use of GIFs such as my favorite weekly “Hump Day” GIF:


Or the always acceptable “This is Fine” GIF for those critical moments at the end of each quarter:


The third and final level would be the Personalization Master.

This is someone who will use emojis and GIFs often to describe a situation, connect with their peers or just add a little life to a conversation. The Personalization Master knows when to use the GIFs, which GIFs to use, and more importantly when not to use the GIFs. As the Personalization Master, you have the tough task of expanding the usage of GIFs and emojis across your virtual workplace. You are there to teach and promote personalization in order to create strong communication.


When Not To Use GIFs



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