Revert to semi-colon emoji shortcuts and reintroduce the autocomplete
Every chat app I have used including teams would have emojis shortcut by :emoji_name:
Additionally in teams when using this method it used to provide predictive text autocomplete so I could rapidly type something like ":th" and a list of emjis would appear including the one I was looking for ":thinking:" and I could select that one to more quickly insert appropriate emojis in my messages.
Now that predictive text is gone and you have swithced to () instead of ::. This seems like a regressive design choice that makes emoji use harder.
You seemed to have changed the emoji set too, which I am mostly indifferent about except the :thinking: emoji is now more passive aggressive looking and is a character rolling their eyes