Office IM- More/Less Productive? :) :)

office IM

I grew up on MSN messenger. My parents made me do Mavis Beacon for a few hours every week to get better at typing but I’d like to think that I can type so fast because of the 3-4 hours I spent on msn after school. Sadly, my chat time has drastically declined to 15-20 minutes every night before bed. iChat and Gchat are essential in planning activities with friends and communicating with my family back home.

I think our generation (not sure who I am referring to with that comment, but let’s assume I’m saying people around my age) think IM is much more efficient than using the phone to communicate. I can definitely see the downsides of using an office IM so let’s look at both sides.

For IM:

1. Communicate without picking up the phone. If someone isn’t there, they’ll get the message when they get back. If they are there but busy or in meeting, they can respond without having to dedicate 100% of their attention to a phone call or desk visit.

2. Record of communication. Rather than having all these short emails or scribbled notes on a pad of paper, you can review what has been said. It is the perfect way to share links or ask small questions like “Should I float the table to the right or to the left of the column?” A question like that doesn’t need a phone call or a walk from your desk. Plus, you can refer back to it later if you forget.

From Kay Reynold’s article Instant Messaging for Businesses, here are a few more pro IMs:

1. Time Management. How often have you played phone tags with business partners? Or played the voicemail game with clients? E-mails get lost in cyber space, memos get trashed upon receipt and lengthy conversations take valuable time out of your day. So what’s the solution? Instant messaging allows people to quickly and effectively communicate their needs or information. With a click of a button, your message pops up on the recipient’s computer, regardless of whether or not they are at their computer.

2. Customer Relations. Be honest: are you always available for your customers to reach you by phone? Probably not. And voicemail messages can be garbled or even lost. With instant messages, your customers can reach you in just a few seconds, and you can either read the message as soon as you receive it, or tend to it later. You can also set up the “Away” message feature that tells people that you are away from your desk, and can even tell them what time you will return.

Against IM:

1. Obviously it can’t be abused in so many ways. Inner office IM can be a way to spread gossip, distract employees, and get lots of stuff on record that you would never want anyone to know.

2. Data security/legality issues. How can you ensure that important information won’t be leaked to outside sources?

3. We’ll all gain 5 pounds because we don’t get up and walk anymore.

So now we need your advice. What is the best IM client to use in the office? Is it MSN? Yahoo? AIM? Gtalk? Trillian? Comment with your suggestion and advice below! Thank you!

  • There are ups and downs of IM’s but I think It is more on the upside because it helps a lot of people. The best IM out there is the one that you are used to. And of course the one that your friends are using also.

  • a very good post. i do agree with you that IMs can have their time and place. most of the time though i find them distracting, especially when ive got loads of work to do and people keep on messaging me. im never sure of the correct IM etiquette, so most of the time i just say im busy or don’t reply.
    people can get a bit too obsessive with IMs i find, and waste their days on them.