The Way We Work
August 30, 2011 by Tamara Rice

That's right. I said it. Wexting. Work texting has become part of our lives, especially when we work remotely from our employers or employees. But this is not your teenage niece's texting, make no mistake about it. Texting, it may be, but because it's work-related, there is a certain amount of professionalism required.

 

The Work Texting Rules:

  • Rule #1: Don't use texting lingo. Unless you've been working with the individual on the other end of the text for a really long time, and they are already aware of your actual spelling abilities (we're talking years invested, not weeks or months), you really should avoid text lingo like "up 2 u" or "OMG." No, really. You should. And while we're at it ...

 

  • Rule #2: Greet the person on the other end. Just like emails, you are expected to say hello. Need two great reasons to take the time to do this?

It confirms the recipient is the intended recipient. What if their phone doesn't recognize yours? What if they are sitting there wondering, "Was this text meant for me?" Say hi. Say their name.
It's polite. Just like in emails or phone calls, acknowledging a greeting is the right thing to do. In a texting/wexting conversation that is ongoing over the course of a few minutes, it's totally fine to drop the greeting after the first of the texts.

  • Rule #3: Sign your full name. That's right. Just like in Rule #2, do not assume the person on the other end has you programmed into their phone and doesn't need you to identify yourself. Sign your name. Also, as in #2, it's not necessary to sign 5 texts in 5 minutes. But sign the first one. Please. (And thank you.)
  • Rule #4: Never text unless you've been given permission to do so. Some people don't have a text plan. Your text might cost them money. Also, some people just don't "do" texting. So before you just text a cell number assuming you can, get permission to do so and ask under what circumstances it's okay to do so. (Maybe "emergencies only" will be the answer.)
  • Rule #5: Think first. While texting your friends over every little detail of life may be normal for you, texting should be a last resort for work. Think: Does this require so much dialog that it deserves a phone call? Think: Do I have to convey so much information that I should put it in an email instead?
  • Rule #6: It should always be about work. You may get to be really friendly over the years with your remote coworker. But unless you've really gotten close, it's a bad idea to text personal details of your life or questions about theirs unless it's really things that have to do with both worlds. Texts like these are totally acceptable:

"Hi, Jane. Going into labor. Talk to you after the maternity leave. - Daphne"

"Hey, Joe. My condolences about your grandpa. Don't worry about the deadline. Have a safe flight. - Jerry"

So there you have it ... the rules of work texting. Want to ignore them? Wext at your own risk. Tell us about your wexting practices and opinions in the comments below!


Tamara Rice

Freelance Writer and Editor

Tamara Rice is one of several freelance writers on the oDesk Blog team. She joined the oDesk marketplace in 2009, after more than six years on staff at an award-winning national magazine.

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  • http://thefreelancepinoy.com/ Stephanie

    These are great tips Tamara! And I think they can be applied even when texting regular people (e.g. new friends, long-distance family relatives), not just clients.

  • http://ayesh.me Ayesh

    @Rich:
    Totally agreed.
    Few jokes over IM makes them trust me -- I'm the employee in the scene.

  • http://randomthoughtsonlifeblog.com Jon Clayton

    I think that is solid and appropriate information. Thanks!

  • Rich Murphy

    Great article. One of the difficulties I find with remote working is getting to know my customers and co-workers. I find it particularly useful to establish a relationship with them, generally by Skype or a couple of phone calls. Since I like to joke around a lot, that establishes the basis for being able to communicate on a more informal basis. Haven't tried wexting with my any of my clients, but I do IM them, especially the ones that I've developed a long-term relationship with. The joking over IM helps our business communication, keeping it from becoming stilted and making it more like a face-to-face work environment.

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