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The (Often Overlooked) Advantages of Instant Messaging in the Workplace

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Instant messaging in the workplace is still a practice that is gaining acceptance, but it is a no-brainer in the “online” office of the 21st Century. According to an Osterman Research study conducted in August 2010, only 35% of corporate email users utilized instant messaging in the workplace. Whether your company doesn’t utilize this valuable tool because of size, proximity, or concerns about abuse, I’m here to change your mind. There are a number of benefits for using instant messaging in the workplace, and here are some that you may not have considered:

  • Less Interruptions - While you may believe that flashing IM windows and tedious buddy list management may mean more interruptions, a 2008 study by researchers at Ohio State University and the University of California, Irvine contradicts this myth. Research showed that instant messaging in the workplace substituted for more disruptive forms of communication, and workers who used instant messaging on the job reported fewer interruptions than colleagues who did not.
  • Mobile Use & Telecommuting - In the era of the mobile workforce, organizations have demanded that job responsibilities that could traditionally only be met at the office can now be accomplished remotely or on a mobile device. Instant messaging provides another solution to this challenge, enabling individuals to be reachable no matter where they are. If one standardized corporate instant messaging solution is part of organizational policy, smartphone owners and telecommuters are connected to everyone at the office even if they’re on the bus or in their slippers with Judge Judy in the background.
  • Electronic Record-Keeping - Utilizing a corporate instant messaging solution that includes archiving or history functionality can be a lifesaver. Calling your colleague asking for clarification on something requested the previous day can be a disruption of the past if the conversation is preserved over IM. If the corporate instant messaging solution includes history/archiving functionality, it’s as quick as loading the last day’s discussion. And if regulatory obligations and conduct rules governing your business require preservation of communication, archived instant messaging will help your company implement and enforce its policies.

These are some of the more-often overlooked advantages of instant messaging in the workplace. When you add these to the list of common sense advantages, why isn’t your office utilizing an instant messaging solution?

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