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Is Whatsapp A Formal Or An Informal Platform For Official Talks?

One needs to acknowledge that both can co-exist – a culture of openness and a culture of respect

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Today’s workplaces aren’t surrounded with those old-aged strict bosses wanting their employees to keep working like a robot in a 9-5 job. Today its more about how to seek maximum output from employees by providing them with an environment of utmost flexibility and comfort. 

Cubicle have been turned into active workstation with standing desks and cycling work corners. A lot of design enhancements too can be seen in “new-age” offices. And not to forget, salutations too have changed depending upon the situation.

Along with the change in design, there has also been friendly turnarounds in the conversation between boss and subordinates.

Viral Chat Context

Recently a whatsapp chat was seen going viral, for tricky reasons of course. The chat was between a boss and his subordinate.

Taking to Reddit, a user shared a screengrab of his conversation with his boss, named Sandeep, who pinged him on his personal WhatsApp number. In response to his boss’s ‘hi’ the user, Shreyas, wrote ‘hey’.

“Please don’t use the word ‘hey’. It’s offensive for me,” came the reply. And before they could talk more, Sandeep started giving gyaan on how words like only ‘hello’, ‘hi there’, ‘man’, ‘dude’ should never be used professionally.

On reading this, Shreyas said that “he is being casual as he is texting him on his personal number and not on any professional form of communication like LinkedIn or email. To this, Sandeep replies that WhatsApp is not a personal space anymore.”

Industry Speaks

There isn’t a very clear-cut response to this situation on what better way it could have been handled. But surely we can hear various versions of it from industry people.

Sudeep Ralhan, CHRO, Upstox is of the view that, “irrespective of platform, the core principles of respect and inclusion need to be followed. The tone however can alter depending on the platform – whatsapp is definitely more informal in tone.”

One needs to acknowledge that both can co-exist – a culture of openness and a culture of respect.

While Emmanuel David, Managing Director, Grid International India on the other hand believes that, “Whatsapp is a platform which enables quick communication, collaboration and coordination.”

He further explains that in such a situation managers should always make it clear to their subordinates the tonality of the conversation. It’s the way we use the platform, defines the angle of the conversation.

Talking about this instance at length, industry people are of the view that the application of this technological platform can be effectively used in business, social, formal/informal settings as well as intimate settings. 

But to the amazement of many, still there persists the hierarchical way of addressing.

Way Ahead

Ralhan further explains that on WhatsApp, the lines are blurred but if you are chatting with work colleagues, it’s good to follow the thumb rule of it being considered an “official” conversation first hand.

WhatsApp's interface mixes all of your conversations into a single platform. This can create confusion in your verbal exchange as you sift via chat subjects. At the same time, the combination turn of private and expert conversations can function as a distraction to the workday.


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