Using Memes in the Workplace

pity the fool
R. Williams – 2016 (created at imgflip.com)

The above image is one I created and put in a farewell card for my boss. When I did it I was really unsure how he would take it. Confidence is not my thing. I asked a few of my colleagues and they thought it was perfect. So I stuck it in, and it tuned out he thought it was hilarious. I still think it was a risky move as he is a serious about work, but chilled about social aspects of work – be on time, but a bit of a ‘havachat’ is cool.

It got me thinking about how something that is largely present online has started to creep into real life. Are they appropriate, and would you send one in an email to a colleague that you may not know very well or at all?

Recently my workplace was the recipient of large inter-store transfers of old and deleted stock, that we were going to clear out. The workload was going to be immense and create functionality problems for the store. When one store sent me their transfer list I replied with a meme:

barney
R. Williams – 2017 (created at imgflip.com)

Maybe a little context is needed… a part of the transfer consisted of eight replacement covers for an outdoor dog bed that we no longer sell, or have sold in over a year. I thought the meme was funny, and I still do. Although I never heard back from the person I sent it to so I have no idea if they thought it was or even understood it. That is one problem with memes, for it to work you need to know the character in the picture and the reference that it is alluding to:

The meaning is essentially – when an apparent impossible task is meet with unrelenting optimism. Which is how I started to view the task at hand – besides getting bothered doesn’t achieve anything.

I think that using memes in the workplace can add tone to an email, or a workplace sign. Take a look at the Mr T one again, it is not negative in any way, it’s humorous but it also conveys an important message without being preachy. The Barney one I sent was to demonstrate that there were ‘no hard feelings’ about my store being dumped with left over stock from another. If these were typed out without the image reference how would they sound then? The Mr T one would come of as threatening and the Barney one could be interpreted in many different ways, from smug to anger, it all depends on the reader.

Using memes in the workplace, as long as it doesn’t take too much time to create, is perfectly fine. I would probably think twice about sending one to a manager that I wasn’t that familiar with, but for everyday communication and if it is a part of your personality then go for it. We all need a laugh every now and then at work. They’re also a great deal of fun to create.

I’d love to hear stories about memes in your workplace, feel free to comment below.

Title Image: R. Williams – 2017 (created at imgflip.com)

One thought on “Using Memes in the Workplace

  • May 6, 2017 at 17:29
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    I haven’t used them at work but use them regularly in Tweets to convey tone and add meaning. You have now got me thinking… that they could have a useful place in the work place for the very same reasons! Great post.

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