When instant messaging made it’s debut a while back, it was a social outlet. As far as small business owners were concerned, it was a way for young adults to to chat about boy bands and whatever else came to mind, while the business world went on as usual.
Recently, however, instant messaging, which has now been integrated into almost every social networking platform available, in addition to Google, has also wiggled its way into the workplace, sparking a heated debate over whether it improves workplace efficiency, or becomes a distraction.
The jury is hung, but all signs point to the former. Here are some ways in which instant messaging has improved workplace efficiency:
When someone is distracted, they lose their train of thought, and it takes a few moments for them to get it back. When this happens in the office, money goes down the drain. This is because every moment that you save doing something is a moment that you can use doing something else, like closing a deal.
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Getting up and walking over to a colleague to discuss something simple distracts not only the colleague in question, but everyone around them. This makes the associate the disruption. Instant messaging allows an associate to send a quick, silent message to a colleague for simple answers to simple questions. This way, no one needs to leave their post, and everyone else can continue what they were doing, completely unaware of the interaction.
Email is not what it used to be. Nor, for that matter, will it ever match the speed with which an instant messaging service can facilitate the communication of important information from one associate to the next, or from an associate to a customer for that matter. Instead of sending out a two or three-sentence e-mail to everyone in their contact list, associates can copy and paste a single message to relevant associates in their messenger list. They can also set it as an away message, or a default message.
If an associate needs to communicate with a colleague in more depth than instant messaging might allow, they can determine if the colleague is available by their instant messaging icon. If the colleague has an away message up, the associate can leave a message. The ‘away’ icon prevents unnecessary trips, and saves the colleague a disruption from an associate while on the phone.