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IM At Work? Mostly For Goofing Off

from the excellent dept

Can you have it both ways? Some days we see stories about how instant messaging is a wonderful invention for the workplace, and any company not using it is hopeless behind the times. Then, come the other stories talking about how instant messaging is a productivity killer, and all people do with it is scheme, flirt and gossip. Sounds evil, right? Well, first you need to take the findings with a pretty large grain of salt, because the study was done by a company looking to sell you a system that stops people from using instant messaging. Just like all those “web monitoring” and “web filtering” companies, they have every incentive to come up with scary stories about just how much “productivity” is lost by people IMing. The simple fact is, if people weren’t doing this stuff over instant messenger, they’d be doing it at the water cooler. Mostly, it’s just a way to blow off steam, and that’s often better for productivity. If someone isn’t getting their work done, then that’s a problem for that employee – not the instant messaging software they use. If they are getting work done, but they spend some time during the day flirting, scheming and gossiping over instant messenger, what difference does it make?

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