Best Way To IM In The Workplace?

from the mostly-good,-sometimes-bad dept

The latest study on instant messaging in the workplace holds very few surprises. As expected, instant messaging is growing in the workplace, and it’s being used for both personal and work reasons. The way the report is worded, it’s a little strange, but it sounds as though some people focus on IM for work, and others for personal communications, but not many do both. As expected, some find IM helpful towards productivity, while others aren’t so enthusiastic about it. It’s basically described as a “mixed blessing,” since it can make important communications more efficient, but can also be distracting and may lead to more “gossip.” What struck me, in reading this, is that for all the talk we have about how to make email more productive, there hasn’t been that much on the instant messaging side. One of the things, personally, that I’ve noticed is that I needed to learn to not respond to instant messages so quickly and let that distract me from whatever I was working on. Also, I’m curious about how people handle IM list management. Back before IM, people would lose touch with certain friends or old colleagues over time, which may have actually been a good thing. But, with your IM buddy list, they’re there forever. More people seem to be shifting their IM names when they change jobs, or even setting up specific “@work” IM addresses that can be changed — but that makes it more difficult to manage (and how do you deal with people who are both personal and work connections?). It seems that, like with email, it’s about time that there were more commonly established best practices in making IM productive in the workplace — and doing so in a way that doesn’t mean completely starting over from what you already have.

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Comments on “Best Way To IM In The Workplace?”

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Olaf (user link) says:

IM in the Workplace

For us, adding vendor contacts to MSN Messenger was value add and point in favor of IM services. I also have some support people on my list. I can’t imagine how they manage to keep that working for them, but they do! I suppose IM’ing is, at least, less distracting than the phone. It *is* possible to do other things while holding a conversation with someone in IM land.

Chris Hansen (user link) says:

IM in the workplace and at home

I work from home more often than not and I don’t even try to separate my accounts. I use Trillian so I can monitor all four different services (MSN, Yahoo!, AOL, ICQ) with one client and I group them according to role. So, I have Family, Friends, family; under work, I have Product Mgmt, Engineering, Services, IT, Sales, Support and Partners.

So far, it works great; Trillian lets me move the offline contacts to a separate folder so I just see the online contacts in each group. Not that this is an advertisement for Trillian, but I’ve used all of the other IM clients and they just don’t stand up to Trillian’s flexibility. It has its quirks but it is still the best I’ve tried.

Sara says:

IM at work

I find it funny that when people unfamiliar with IM hear about it they are worried that some people at work will misuse it for non-work conversations. I kindly remind them that these type of offenders probably already do this, using another tool or even verbal communication. 🙂 This is just another tool to do what we already do.

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