is it bad that I Gchat my friends while I’m at work?

I wrote a piece for the New York Times about the new digital etiquette at work: Is it bad that you chat with friends on Gchat or Facebook throughout the workday? How do you follow up with coworkers who haven’t answered your emails? Can you avoid the phone at work? Is it okay to post on social media when you’re out sick? And many more pressing questions.

You can read it here.

{ 105 comments… read them below }

  1. animaniactoo*

    I’ll be back after I read that later, but I wanted to drop in and say: New York Times? Go, Alison! Congrats. I hope that’s another new ongoing market for you.

  2. Zona the Great*

    I do chat with my friends (work friends who work across the state from me) most of the day as I am able. I also always have Netflix going as well as various news sites open (and AAM!). I am hyperactive and hyper-productive so I don’t personally agree that it will hurt me in the long term though I don’t know how many people can have so many distractions like this. I know I’m a little odd in that way. However, I do limit texting and phone calls since the optics are better when it looks like I am just looking at my work screen.

    1. The Hills of Yorkshire*

      Seconding (or is it thirding?). I am always on skype at work and at home to talk to friends, and it would honestly be a dealbreaker for me if I had a job where I couldn’t do that. I try to keep it hidden, but I don’t actually know how well I’ve done / if people have ever noticed. And I have always been told by my bosses that I’m one of the most efficient employees they’ve ever had.

    2. Angelinha*

      I agree with chatting/reading websites intermittently, but watching Netflix seems extreme to me. Although, I definitely watched a whole episode of the Bachelorette once at my first job, so maybe I shouldn’t talk!

      1. littlelizard*

        Some people can genuinely watch shows in the background and enjoy them, and also have jobs where they can do their work at the same time. My partner is like this. It drives me bonkers when these ‘shows as background’ habits transfer to watching TV with *me*, though…

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          I cannot stand silence, so I always have the TV on when I work (I work from home). I put on shows that I’ve seen 10 million times so that I can just have the hum of the noise without being too invested in what is happening. If I put on a new episode of something, I’d want to pay attention to it instead of working.

          1. Fikly*

            Not only can I not stand silence, but it helps my mental health so have something (with speech, not just music) in the background, so I am actually more productive and better at my job when I have tv streaming in the background. I’m almost never looking at it or paying much attention.

          2. Ophelia*

            Yep. I also often put on, like, mumbly BBC dramas, where if you keep the sound low, you can definitely move the dialogue to the background, and it’s just not so QUIET in the house.

          3. Gumby*

            I’m the opposite. It’s hard for me to accomplish meaningful work with words going on (so classical or instrumental music is fine, anything with lyrics is not). And I get drawn in to TV shows when they are on in my vicinity. Which is how I watched 7 hours of Dallas cheerleaders tryouts one day when at someone’s house who was a “have the TV on for company” type person. 7 hours!!!

            But, oddly, if I am very into my task, I can completely blank out sounds around me for short periods. It only works for maybe 15-30 minutes at a time though. I like to credit being a former gymnast for that – gotta do your routine and ignore the crowds entirely.

        2. Uldi*

          In this case, they aren’t really watching the show, it’s just white noise. Neurologists have stated, frequently, that humans don’t truly multitask (even though we keep telling ourselves we do). We instead rapidly switch our attention from one conscious task to another; in most cases, purely mechanical actions like walking don’t require conscious effort and attention*. Talking and watching TV do, however. It’s why you either lose track of the phone conversation or the plot, depending on which you spend the most time focused on.

          *Exceptions due to injury or disability apply.

      2. Zona the Great*

        What littlelizard said. I am not actually watching it. I put on shows that don’t interest me enough to care but are entertaining enough to make my mind not wander.

        1. Jennifer Juniper*

          I have mild hearing loss. If the TV is on, I won’t be able to hear you as clearly as when the TV is off.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            On the flip side, I’m in an open office and don’t *WANT* to hear people clearly. So hearing issues or no, I keep music playing when there are conversations I’m not part of.

      3. Cafe au Lait*

        I Netflix when I’m doing data entry. I get bored, and I’ll start browing the interwebs. Watching Netflix (always a TV show or movie I’ve watched), is mindless enough for background noise and helps push me through my task.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          I do data entry from home and I’ve found it makes it much more bearable to have tv on in the background that I’m sort of paying attention to. I’d never do it in an office, though – I usually listen to music in those cases.

      4. Chili*

        I work best with TV on! I don’t know why, but I always have since I was a kid. I’ve explained that to bosses before and they’ve been super chill about it (I also work in a pretty chill industry). I find that podcasts actually distract me too much because it’s all audio/verbal, but since a lot of TV relies on visuals and I’m not really watching, it’s the perfect amount of background stimulation.

        1. Quoth the Raven*

          I ‘m the same. I feel that podcasts tend to distract me because it’s usually two or more hosts, so it feels like a conversation I have to keep up with (there’s only one podcast I can listen to without getting distracted). I don’t get that feeling with TV shows.

          I also recently discovered I focus best when listening to horror stories, for whatever reason!

    3. Allison*

      I do Netflix when I’m working from home, but at work, I try to find podcasts or YouTube videos to put on in the background. For months I had vine compilations going on my smaller screen.

    4. Coco*

      For Netflix and other streaming, do you work from home or download shows/ movies to your device? Or are you using the company’s bandwidth? If the latter is your IT dept okay with it?

      1. Zona the Great*

        It’s the latter. I would say most of us are watching netflix or youtube. No mention from IT yet in the last two years. The network does make you re-log-in all the time so I think that’s how they get around it.

      2. Chili*

        I download them all on my device (or work from home). I think my IT department would be okay with streaming, but Netflix makes it so easy to download things in advance anyway

    5. A*

      Yeah, same. I can chat on and off and still do my job/get my work done. I think this depends a lot on what your job is, how your brain works, and how good you are at making sure it does not in fact become a distraction. For me, depending on the project I’m working on, all of it is background so that I don’t lose focus or get super bored and give up for good–basically, it can be done!

    6. nott the brave*

      This is something I’ve noticed as a difference between neurotypical and neurodivergent people when balancing focus and distractions. Most people will tend to focus when there are no other distractions going on (chatting, streaming music or videos, etc.), while some people constantly experience distraction just by existing and using other, *controlled* methods of distraction acts like a firewall by blocking out all other types just below it, allowing you to focus on your main task, like a white noise machine when trying to sleep.

      It’s very true that people will be judgmental about how it comes across regardless of how efficient it does or does not make you. It sucks, but that’s where we’re at right now, and I hope to someday see more understanding and balance in the future. Just because something is bad for one person does not mean it’s bad for someone else.

      1. Entry-Level Marcus*

        I’m not sure I agree with this as a generalization about neurotypical vs. neurodivergent people (though I’m sure it’s true for some people!). I’m definitely not neurotypical, but I absolutely do find Netflix and social media chatting to be super distracting at work. Constantly switching between tasks makes my distractability and executive dysfunction that much worse, I find (and I believe there is research that suggests this is true for most people, though I’m happy to be corrected on this).

        That said, I do my best work when listening to music, so I do sympathize with needing background noise. And I very much agree that everyone’s working styles are different and we should not rush to judge other people’s work habits.

        1. Tau*

          Yeah, my version of neurodivergence seems to swing to the extreme where anything video-based not only draws my attention but is also so intense and overstimulating that it will probably send me into fetal position in fairly short order. Which is mainly fun in that I have to figure non-disability explanations for why I watch no TV or movies at all, ever. Putting on a TV show in the background to focus? For me this would be distinctly counterproductive, but everyone’s different, as long as I don’t have to see or hear it you do you.

          I do hear you on background noise, although my preferred one is actually people – I do great work in coffee shops and open offices. Music isn’t as good because it can start distracting me even if it’s purely instrumental.

        2. Craig*

          I think it’s more of an extrovert vs introvert thing.

          Introverts feel productive in the quite stillnesss
          Extroverts feel productive in the noisy flappy environment.

          Ambiverts go both ways.

          Since nobody ks measuring, we can’t say one way or another.

          1. SarahTheEntwife*

            That’s definitely not consistent across introverts and extroverts I know. I’m an introvert but I definitely need some ambient noise or activity.

          2. Avasarala*

            Extrovert vs introvert is based on how tired/energized you get from social activity, not how you work or concentrate.

      2. theAutomator*

        I agree with this. I changed careers from design to tech and in my design role, I was only able to focus by having something like a podcast or TV show on while I worked. It was enough distraction to keep me on task, and the visual aspects of doing layout work didn’t prevent me from being able to follow the plot. Now that I’ve moved into a coding role, I absolutely cannot focus on work with people talking or even song lyrics.

    7. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      It may well be that you are one of the few who able to pull it off without trouble, but it is unlikely that all your friends are as gifted.
      So you are doing them a disservice.
      Social media are designed with the express objective of keeping users as long on the platform as possible (“when you are not paying, you aren’t the customer, you’re the product”), they hire significant teams of psychology majors to ensure that. The social media platforms’ goals are directly opposite to your employer’s in competing for your attention.
      So yes, cut it out, if not for your own sake then for your friends’.

  3. designbot*

    I have both gone through phases where I gchat a lot, and had trouble with employees who do so. What I’ve told the employees was, I’m not against it wholesale, it’s something that a lot of people do. But if you haven’t answered my email, I don’t expect to see you chatting. The work comes first, and the socializing is fine if it fits.

    1. Amber T*

      This is just it. I have FB Messenger open right now – I chat with my mom every morning for a bit while I go through emails, I’ll use it to message my partner about things we need to do/coming up/life stuff, I use it as a replacement for text messaging for some friends (the occasional one off message we take a bit to reply to). I think for employees that are performing adequately, it’s not an issue.

      1. banzo_bean*

        Yeah, the problem I always find is it’s really hard to describe in concrete terms when it’s an issue and when it isn’t. I had an intern that would clickly respond to facebook messages from her boyfriend. It was things like what time she got off, or where is X, or can we meet for lunch today. No problem, and not distracting. Even if I was waiting on her for something I knew she could really manage her time and not get distracted. Another intern could not- he would drop deadlines, spend tons of time on his phone, and send long texts and messages throughout the day.

      2. Rona*

        If you’re just performing adequately, I’m gonna wonder how much better you could be if you cut out the time wasting chat and focused on your work. “Adequate” is the bare minimum I expect (if you are inadequate I’m going to fire you, after all), it’s not enough to make this OK.

        If you’re a star performer, maybe it’s acceptable. But until you hit that level, it’s going to look bad.

        1. Dahlia*

          I think this is a big misunderstanding of how different people focus. There are plenty of people who doing nothing but working would not result in better results, but in worse ones.

        2. AllTheNope*

          It doesn’t work that way for me. I am productive because I manage my time and effort in the way that works best for me. If an employer tried to get me to produce at top speed all the time, I would quit because otherwise I would crash & burn. Think of it like high-intensity interval training.

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I mean, it depends on my work. If my job is to stand in front of a conveyor belt and pull levers using both hands to make as many widgets in a work day as possible, then yes, chatting on a phone is going to be taking away from that. But many of us need downtime to think about the work we are doing, next steps etc.

          (I admit that, while I do do good work, I am terrible at looking busy, so everyone should probably take my advice with a grain of salt.)

          1. GIF-happy*

            Isn’t this why we pay some jobs with salaries instead of hourly wages? I’m paid to deliver great work. As long as I’m useful and engaged in meetings, pleasant and personable to my coworkers and I deliver great work, who cares if I produced it with the TV on in the background, or with breaks in between to check Twitter? If my performance isn’t good enough, fire me – not because I was on Twitter, but because my work wasn’t great. I’m an adult, and it’s my job to figure out the best work habits for myself. It’s like in college: some people worked best writing term papers in quiet libraries, others worked better in cafes. All that mattered was the product, not the process. This is close to a “butts in seats” mentality which makes sense for some workplaces – not for others!

        4. A*

          Shouldn’t it just be the work output that matters? If an employee is inadequate, that needs to be dealt with accordingly (if deemed that they do not meet the business needs). If they’ve been messing around on their phone – how does that change things? If they stopped, and all of a sudden were a rockstar employee, wouldn’t that still be concerning given that it would indicate a purposeful choice having been made to not reach their full potential?

          I also think it’s worth noting that not everyone wants to, or aspires to, be a star performer. I’ve met plenty of wonderful and capable individuals who are just fine with being ‘ok’. It’s up to their management teams to decide if their output fits their business needs.

          1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

            Yeah I’ll be honest that as long as I’m performing to a certain standard (I’ll call it “adequate++”) and my managers are happy with my work I can and will find things that are not-work to occupy my time. Banning cell phone use or really locking down the WiFi will not stop me. I would likely just take a lot more bathroom breaks or go find other adequate+/- people to socialize with.

            I’m not going to be better without distractions. For me, it’s wholly an issue of motivation and I am just not that motivated.

          2. Craig*

            Just measuring the work output. Eliminates a lot of the chance for mamagement to feel important with everyone playing poltics and sucking up to them.

            Why bother if your raise is decided by a spreedsheet showing performance?

    1. H.C.*

      I gave this some thought too, and figured it’s probably because emoticons have been around longer so there’s less of a stigma against their usage. And maybe because they look less cartoony, in general.

    2. Tzeitel*

      One reason is probably just convention and we aren’t really used to cartoony figures in e-mails. The second is probably what is illustrated by your post – different computers and types of software have different depictions of emojis. I’d be horrified if an emoji that looked normal and friendly on my screen looks strange and uncommon on another’s (which sometimes happens in iphone vs. android).

    3. Half-Caf Latte*

      My employer has emojis blocked on skype, and it’s hugely annoying because even a :) gets autowrecked into an emoji and then the whole message gets eaten, and you both have to close the chat and start a new one to see future messages.

      Because it’s a more instant, informal communication method, I tend to add smileys for tone for work things, or just for messages like “vendor brought the good donuts, they’re in the break room :)”, so my messages regularly get eaten by the machines.

  4. Filosofickle*

    LOL I saw the article on the NYT site and thought, gee, that’s a question for Alison. Instead of clicking on the article I popped over to AAM and here it is!

  5. Mediamaven*

    No, don’t chat with your friends all day when you are at work. What used to be mind breaks over the course of the day for my team has become a very rare occasion that I don’t see at least half of them screwing around on their phones on social media or texting. Sometimes it’s for a half hour at a time. When we aren’t making goals or losing business it becomes a lot more of a problem and something I’m starting to police in a way I never have before. It’s not a good look.

    1. Jennifer Juniper*

      What the hell? Don’t people know the boss can see them doing that? It’s one thing listening to music on earbuds while doing work, but playing with your phone? Shouldn’t that get locked in your desk before you clock in?

      1. Mid*

        No? Many (most?) people are capable of having their phones and still getting their work done. This isn’t middle school. People are responsible for their own productivity. I’m currently on my phone at my desk. I’m also ahead of all my work and have been praised for my productivity and quality of work. If individuals are having issues, they should be dealt with individually, instead of making an infantilizing blanket policy for everyone.

      2. Mediamaven*

        I don’t think it needs to be locked in the desk and never looked at and I’ve never been a stickler on it until recently when I’m watching people who are not meeting their goals spending actual hours on their phones. If they were killing it I would care but they aren’t. So unfortunately that makes it get sketchy for everyone.

        1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

          I’m also, you know, a grownup who should be trusted to manage her own time without having my toy taken away. Either I’m capable of getting my work done at a satisfactory level while also screwing around on social media, or I’m not.

          If I’m not then that’s a disciplinary issue wherein cell phone use is a likely behavior to be called out, but a blanket edict of “phones away, pencils up, you’re on company time!” isn’t a reasonable convention.

        2. pancakes*

          Another two-factor authentication user here. I can’t log in to do my work if I don’t have the authenticator app open & my phone handy.

      3. Le Sigh*

        No, because I use my phone for work throughout the day. So that would actually inhibit my job.

        And sure, I make dinner plans with friends on my phone or sometimes take a mental break and read an article. But I also answer after-hours emails and/or handle last-minute client issues when duty calls. So I’ll stop doing that if someone starts micro-managing my time.

    2. A*

      Do you know for sure it isn’t work related? I used my phone (both personal + work) all the time to look up and read articles, watch videos, etc. but it’s relevant to the projects I’m working on. Sometimes it’s faster for me to pull it up on my phone than my work desktop or laptop (and sometimes my work computers are slowed down by other processes being run).

      I used to run into this a few years ago when I was working under a first time manager and I was handling annual negotiations for our indirect services. She spoke to me multiple times about my ‘inappropriate’ use of company time and every single example she listed was actually work related. Oh, you saw me looking at a bunch of yoga websites for an hour straight? And then it looked like I was shopping for gift baskets? Hm, I wonder if it could possibly have anything to do with the fact that our fitness program offerings and holiday gifts for clients both fall under the bucket of indirect services?!?!?! It was actually very satisfying to see her settle into her position and get to the point of trusting me to manage my own time and workload so long as my output was strong.

  6. GIF-happy*

    Oh haaaay, NYT byline! Congrats Alison!

    When I had customer accounts, I used to designate them in my head as “GIF” or “non-GIF” accounts based on what vibes I’d picked up during our calls. Sending GIFs to the right audience always resulted in faster responses, a higher rate of responses, and a better working relationship. They were more likely to think of me as a person, and go out of their way for me (writing a review, providing feedback on something, professional favors, etc). They were more likely to refer me for roles after I left, because they remembered me very distinctly.

    I understand that many people, especially those new to the workforce, don’t want to take any risks or aren’t sure what the risks are, or work in extremely conservative offices – and your advice is really helpful in that regard. But it’s also worth remembering what you give up when you stick strictly to professional (dull) communications at all times. Your boss will never be mad at you! It will never backfire! But you may not get the results you want, either, or make the strongest connections with customers and coworkers. What Alison describes in these answers is the safest path, but it is not the only path.

    1. WearingManyHats*

      Agreed! I also think it depends on the method of communication you are using. We use Slack A LOT and GIFs and emojis are used constantly. While we have quite a few young employees, there are a number of us in the over 35 range too, so it’s not an age thing. Emojis can show support or lighten a comment that may be taken poorly via text.

      1. CRM*

        Totally agree that on Slack it makes sense, but I would still feel weird using it in an email (unless it’s an informal email regarding the department holiday potluck, or something like that).

    2. CRM*

      I respectfully disagree. I think you risk far more damage to your professional relationships by having a gif come off incorrectly than not including one at all. Sure, some people have an incredible amount of social intelligence and understand how to navigate this kind of casualness in professional conversations. Many of us- myself included- are likely to misjudge these situations. Even if the gif itself is harmless, it could give off the impression that you aren’t taking your work seriously. I NEVER want to receive a gif or emoji from, say, my doctor, or an insurance adjuster (unless we were weirdly close). It would feel flippant and dismissive.

      I only use emojis when I use Slack (which is a very informal mode of communication), and only with my closest team members. I’m easy to get along with and I do my job well, which garners far more respect and good will than an gif or emoji ever would.

      Furthermore, I would rather just send off an email instead of wasting time trying to find the right gif for the moment.

      1. MsMaryMary*

        My last job blocked most images in emails, so if you sent me a gif I wouldn’t see it. Maybe I’d see “standing _ovation.gif” in the body of the email. A lot of emojis didn’t come through either. Even a friendly client might not see the lighthearted message you meant to send.

  7. giraffe*

    Re: emojis and the like, I have a book recommendation! BECAUSE INTERNET by Gretchen McCulloch is super interesting and talks about how the internet is influencing our language. There’s also some really neat stuff about how you use and interpret Internet language differently based not on your age, but at what age and in what time you started using the Internet. So if you’re in an office full of mostly people with a similar relationship to the internet, emojis and gifs and stuff are probably fine; but if your office has a higher proportion of people who use the internet differently, they might not interpret things the same way. It’s a really good book!

    1. giraffe*

      Also, in my first jobs out of college my friends and I were all a bit underemployed and we spent a LOT of time gchatting with each other throughout the day. That’s sort of naturally dropped off as we all moved up the ranks a bit and found jobs that are harder/more engaging/busier, and we hardly ever gchat anymore. I’d say if you’re starting out in your career, you’re not 100% engaged in your work, and you have other friends in the same boat, it’s probably fine to waste a bit of time chatting now. If you’re a bit farther along in your career and you actually don’t have the time or capacity to spend time chatting but you’re doing it anyway, that’s probably a time to start pulling back consciously.

      1. Melly*

        This has been my experience as well. Sometimes I’ll still check in with friends on gchat/FB messenger, but interestingly enough even those conversations tend to be work-related, like I’ll ask an old college friend who also manages people for advice on a situation or I’ll hold a mini-focus group on design options with a group of moms with kids the same age as mine.

  8. dealing with dragons*

    I’m still amazed that there’s this attitude about chatting with friends from Allison. It feels the same as many of the other work issues where it comes down to: is it affecting productivity? But the “gchat” for some reason has a stigma to it. I think it 100% depends on the job and can be seen as the same as a smoke break (or an AAM break ).

    I also find it interesting, as a side note, that we talk about emojis: yes or no, but nobody mentions using an excess of ellipses as being unprofessional………..I assume because it’s mostly the older generation who does it…….but I feel as a “millennial” that it eschews common grammar practices………………that should be adhered to in professional communications………..

    1. Not Me*

      I think it’s more likely we aren’t talking about it because it’s not “new” like emojis are.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I mean, this is what I wrote: “That doesn’t mean you can’t take the occasional Gchat break if you’re having a slow day. And if you’re in a job that’s slow all the time — well, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get through a long, boring day. But for most people, chatting with friends for hours every workday will harm them in the long-term.”

      I don’t think that’s at odds with what you’re saying.

      1. dealing with dragons*

        I’m referencing: “Well, it isn’t great. It’s a distraction that will keep you less invested in your work than you otherwise would be, and it can affect your productivity more than you might realize.”

        To me it feels like your advice for other distractions from a manager or coworker view is to only step in if it affects work. You’ve become a lot less harsh in your advice over chatting at work over the years though – there’s an earlier post where you’re a hard no. I do appreciate the distinction :)

        1. LQ*

          There is a huge difference between something that is 100% in your control and doesn’t impact work relationships and something that is entirely in someone else’s control and does impact work relationships. That’s not the same at all.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ah, I see what you’re saying. If a manager were asking me about an employee who seemed to be chatting a lot, that’s definitely what I’d say — look at how it impacts their work, if at all. But I think that’s different than assessing what you yourself are doing, and people are often really inaccurate when they self-assess how much it impacts their focus and productivity.

    3. animaniactoo*

      I think it’s because it’s almost guaranteed that doing a lot of digital messaging throughout the day is almost guaranteed to be interfering with productivity. Note: If you worked in a call center and do outbound calls, you can’t talk to your coworkers throughout the day without one of your primary work instruments – your voice/mouth – being diverted for a non-business use.

      Using your hands to chat instead of doing whatever computer work or other physical tasks you need to do is going to fall under that same umbrella.

      And also note: While talking all day (or most of the day) with your co-workers is one thing, there’s a different standard for being on personal calls all day – even if you can still do your job. It’s the idea that your attention is captured by something external to the company and focused primarily there rather than on your work. Even if your work is perfectly fine or amazing, the perception of this means it’s a no go.

      1. dealing with dragons*

        “Using your hands to chat instead of doing whatever computer work or other physical tasks you need to do is going to fall under that same umbrella.”

        That describes any other type of break or distraction as well, which for other things besides internet chatting includes the advice that it’s only an issue if it affects productivity.

        We’re also humans, not machines, and I don’t agree with that type of capitalistic thought process. I am providing a service to a company for money, they can decide if what I’m providing is worth it or not and adjust. I’m not selling my soul. Am I getting my work done? Is anyone in danger? Am I doing anything illegal? No? Then it seems fine.

        1. C*

          I actually agree with you, but not gonna lie – “I don’t agree with that type of capitalistic thought process” made me literally LOL. We live in a capitalistic society, and the vast majority of the content of this blog is in relation to business. So ya, not surprised by a capitalist theme.

          Thanks for the giggle, that was cute.

        2. animaniactoo*

          The point isn’t about a break, and no – other distractions do not necessarily need you to use your hands to interact with them.

          I agree that we’re humans and not machines, however the truth is that I have sold my time and they do get to say what I do with that time (within legal limits, obviously). I am the seller, they are the buyer, and it continues to be a buyer’s market. If I need to be on G-chat or the phone continuously throughout the day, and those things are contrary to the appearance of being engaged in the work that I have been hired to do, I have sold my time to the wrong company – and that is my fault, not theirs. I can either adjust or figure out how to pay my rent with no paycheck – unless, of course, I can find a company who is willing to allow me to be on G-chat or the phone continuously throughout the day.

          1. dealing with dragons*

            Not to belabor the point, but that’s a real butts-in-seats mentality. I am coming from the privilege of being a white collar computer worker, so I understand it’s different in other jobs, but if at the end of the day the company is getting the value I provide I don’t think it matters what I appear to be doing. As you’re saying, I’m at work to do work, not just to look like I’m doing work.

        3. WellRed*

          Eh, people can listen to music or chat with coworkers and still do data entry. But if you are typing back and forth with a friend, then you aren’t doing data entry. But I do agree that we aren’t machines and need breaks.

        4. fhqwhgads*

          But the question here is “throughout the day”. Other types of breaks are presumably just that – breaks. If you’re chatting with friends via whatever means on breaks, sure fine, that’s the point of breaks. But if you’re doing it consistently throughout the day, as the LW asked about, that sounds like something more frequent than most people would have breaks. Maybe not, maybe I’m reading too much into the word choice, but I think there’s a big difference between, say, chatting on a break vs a single sentence in the chat window every hour vs basically having an ongoing conversation all day. The first is NBD and unlikely to be disruptive, the second is also likely to be inconsequential, the third is much less likely to be so. Consequently, if what the LW meant was more like that, maybe reign it in or check oneself. If they meant the first two, probably not an issue.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Uh… my teammates and I use our brain to do computer work. More so than our hands. Believe me, you want to keep us working that way. I’ve seen it done the other way around, all typing and no thinking. Not great for the business in the long run.

        1. animaniactoo*

          Depends on what you’re doing. If I’m doing silo paths on a bunch of photos, it requires my hands and my attention, but not a lot of my brainpower. It is, in fact, so mind-boringly numb that I can’t do it at length without finding some form of auditory entertainment for my brain.

          1. WellRed*

            I loathe posting content to our website, especially when there are links involved. Mind numbing! Music helps.

    4. banzo_bean*

      I had a boss that sent marketing emails with ellipsis every sentence. It gave me anxiety reading them. Somewhere on some digital marketing blog she read that this made her emails seem more dynamic and engaging but it came off as is she could not write well.

      “Hey ___, let’s talk about your goals….this holiday season….Are you on track with your fianances…..or do you need to play catch up……”

      I’d always wonder what she thought the point of this was.

      1. dealing with dragons*

        from what I’ve been told, it’s to capture pauses in natural speech. People who grew up in the internet use them to omit words or indicate a dramatic pause, I think, but the “new adopters”, so to speak, are using them like a comma might be used. So for us it’s very ominous but for them it’s just natural speech, lol.

        At my last job someone would put in tickets and write messages with an overabundance of them. Like he was definitely holding on to the key for an excessive amount of time……………………………please advise.

        1. pancakes*

          There’s a proper way to do so, though. Three dots for material eliminated from the middle of a sentence or to suggest a pause in thought, and four dots if material has been eliminated from the end of a sentence. I suppose I grew up on the internet, having started off with Oregon Trail in grade school, but sloppy punctuation irritates me.

    5. FairPayFullBenefits*

      Re ellipses: Everything my uncle writes (in emails anyway) looks exactly like that paragraph, and I thought it was just him. Is this a common thing??

  9. Sleepless*

    I’m a veterinarian and I’ve been known to include an emoticon here and there in a medical record. If I’ve just written something like “skin lesions dramatically improved since last visit, owner reports much more comfortable,” it’s hard not to follow that with a :-).

  10. MsMaryMary*

    Shortly before I left OldJob, our managing director lectured the team on email etiquette, which included a strict prohibition on exclamation points and emojis/emoticons. Like many other things, I believe there’s a time and a place. The occasional :-) or “Happy Friday!” really can help build relationships between clients or vendors. “Thanks!” is different from “Thanks.” If you’re emailing a client about a serious issue, or talking about a fees, of course you want to be more formal. But I like to think experienced professionals know when to be formal and when to loosen up. So I stopped using exclamation points and emojis on any emails where he was copied in.

  11. Hedgehug*

    What the hell is “GChat”? Geez I’m only 31 years old and I’m so out of touch, lmao.
    The only reason I know what Slack is is because my husband’s part-time work uses it.

    1. Close Bracket*

      OK, Millenial :) Gchat is the google chat app, the current incarnation of which is Google Hangouts.

      1. Hedgehug*

        bahaha, I still had to look it up and when I saw a picture of the app I went “ohhh THAT thing?” I don’t know anything anymore lol

  12. Oaktree*

    With regards to Gchat, Facebook, or really doing literally anything that’s not a work task while at work, my answer is the same. If it negatively impacts your productivity, you shouldn’t do it. If it doesn’t, there’s no reason not to (provided you’re discreet- I’m talking quiet Facebooking, reading NYTimes articles, etc., not watching Netflix or knitting at your desk).

    Ultimately, what matters is optics and your productivity. Don’t get caught looking like you’re goofing off, and make your actual job your first priority. Beyond that, not using Gchat during work hours is really just digital butts-in-seats.

  13. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    It just blows my whole mind that chatting on the phone or your computer IM is unanimously seen as slacking, whereas chatting about not-work-related issues for much longer periods of time with your coworkers in-person is very often seen as being a team player, bonding with your teammates etc and is all around acceptable in the workplace. Then again, there are many things in the corporate workplace that tend to blow my mind.

    Disclaimer, I couldn’t read the article because I hit a paywall :(

    1. LQ*

      One is a work relationship the other isn’t. I don’t get what’s mind blowing. One matters to the employer and your job the other doesn’t. I don’t talk with the people I work with because I’m bffs with them. I talk to them because I need that relationship to get my job done because people have a lot of discretion in the way they work.

      Also I highly recommend checking to see if your local public library offers access through their website to stuff like nyt. It’s fairly common and super helpful when you need it. (This PSA not brought to you by your local public library unless you like it then it is ;))

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Hmmm, I guess it varies from one workplace to another. At mine, I’ve heard people complain about inane never-ending chatting going on in their work area, that not only was stopping the people chatting from doing any work, but wasn’t letting anyone around them concentrate on theirs, either. A lot more detrimental to everyone’s work than an on and off google chat in my opinion. But no one could do anything, because the chatting culture came from the top and the worst offenders were managers.

    2. Allonge*

      I doubt very much that Alison would encourage people to endlessly chat with colleagues in-person about non-work related reasons, though. Or even work-related ones.

  14. CastIrony*

    I just text my twin during breaks these days, but she used to have a job where she would IM me once every hour or so, just to say hi or that she was on a break. It’s because we are very close, and we like to make sure we have both eaten or are eating or something like that.

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