Instant messaging has changed the way that individuals communicate with one another, both in their personal lives and in the workplace. Just as email threw a wrench in traditional mail's plans, instant messaging threatens to jump start a new method of instantaneous communication, one which can be seen as a great benefit, but also an immense annoyance.
As reported by ITProPortal, over half of the respondents to a survey by BetterCloud believe that instant messaging will overtake email in the office; an impressive feat, especially considering how commonplace email is in today’s professional environment. However, this also means that businesses need to improve their instant messaging practices if they want to reap the benefits it provides, and to use instant messaging in such a way that it’s not a major workplace distraction.
If you want to improve your business’s instant messaging practices, try these tips.
Accurately Represent Your Current Online Status
You need to give your team a proper representation of whether you are currently available or not. If you don’t, they could be wasting valuable time trying to reach out to you when, in reality, you’re nowhere near your computer. Make sure that you change your status to indicate that you’re away from your computer, or logged off for the night; that way, your team can know that they would be better off contacting someone else who is available.
If It’s Going to Be a Long Conversation, Try a Different Communication Medium
Long IM conversations can waste time, especially if they aren’t particularly relevant to the task at hand. In this case, it’s better to simply pick up the phone and call the person you need to communicate with or arrange for a face-to-face conversation. This way, the details get ironed out and you don’t waste valuable time getting to the point. Plus, emotions are somewhat difficult to express through instant messaging, while voice chat and in-person meetings are easier to get a feel for.
If You Have a Short, Specific Request, Try to Put It at the Beginning of the Conversation
There’s no point in drawing out a conversation when all you need to do is ask a question. Doing so isn’t just wasting your time; it’s wasting the recipient’s time too. Be courteous and respectful of your colleagues’ time and ask questions as soon as you can.
Take Full Advantage of Your IM System’s Features
Many instant messaging platforms also allow for several other functions. If you fully take advantage of these features, your team can be more productive with your IM solution. For example, if your system allows for voice chat, using it can be a great way to clear up confusion or explain a particularly difficult concept. If you need to rope in another person, try adding them to the conversation when they need to be there. The idea is to play around with what works and what the limits of your IM system are. This way, you can help your team better understand how to take advantage of the features.
By following these best practices, your organization will see a more fruitful use of instant messaging features. What are some of your favorite ways to use instant messaging, and do you have any specific practices that you follow at your organization? We’d love to hear about them. Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to our blog for more best practices and tech tips.