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Limiting workplace expression

· 2 min read

At Microsoft, obviously, we’re required to use Teams for communication (instead of Slack, Google Chat, Discord, etc). I’ll be honest, there is not much that I actually like about Teams. But one of the most minor and frustrating things is how much they’ve limited your ability to express reactions to messages.

Acceptable reactions for Microsoft workplaces:

  • 👍 - thumbs-up (generic yellow skintone)
  • ❤️ - red heart
  • 😆 - grinning face with squinting eyes
  • 😮 - surprised face with open mouth
  • 🙁 - slightly frowning face
  • 😡 - red angry face

All of the work that went into adding these reactions, and here we are being told what limited set of emotions we’re allowed to express. In Teams, I can’t make any sort of praise other than a very half-baked 👍. I guess They don’t want me to feel all that positively about anything. Honestly, I’m surprised that 😡 is even available. I can’t believe I’d be allowed to have that much emotion at work.

And then, really pushing the boundaries here, did you know that you can send emoji reactions in Outlook too? Unsurprisingly, this list is limited and different to what’s available in Teams. Why? I don’t know, but if I were to guess I’d say that it’s because the internal teams working on these features have never communicated and there is likely zero product-level strategy alignment.

  • 👍 - thumbs-up (generic yellow skintone)
  • ❤️ - red heart
  • 🎉 - party popper
  • 😂 - face with tears of joy
  • 😮 - surprised face with open mouth
  • 😢 - crying face (single tear)

👍 Thank you, Microsoft, for allowing me to have so much freedom of expression.