Nowadays, friends and family members aren’t the only people we chat online with. We chat with our bosses and colleagues, too. Over the years, it has become more common for companies to send out chat messages instead of emails. It proved effective in improving collaboration and communication. But is it making the workplace more productive and orderly?
Instant messaging is essentially texting, and we discourage texting at work. As such, some business owners think it’s hurting productivity. But others insist that it’s the opposite.
Using Slack can really yield negative outcomes if you don’t employ effective Slack governance. From that, we can say that monitoring is the key to minimizing the negative impact of instant messaging. However, that’s easier said than done.
Instant Messaging vs. Email and Phone Calls
Before workplaces adopted instant messaging, email and phone calls are their primary methods of communication. Emailing allowed companies to save time and resources on meetings. It also reduced their usage of hard copy documents. Phones, on the other hand, made urgent requests heard and fulfilled fast.
Instant messaging offered all of those functions. It includes a file attachment feature, so you can just “Slack” or “Discord” your reports to your bosses or colleagues. If you need to make an urgent request, you can use its call feature or send alerts.
Being able to communicate instantaneously also made remote working possible and efficient. If not for that, working from home during the pandemic would’ve been extra challenging. Though you can also send and receive email messages instantly, there’s no guarantee that a fast response will happen. Plus, it’s harder to document email conversations. In instant messaging, since it’s in a chat format, it’s easier to scroll back to past conversations, and there are no distracting texts in the way. You can also archive your conversations for future reference.
Furthermore, it’s easier to create a group chat than to send out email memos. If you need to address someone specifically, you can either use the mention feature in the group chat or send them a private message. You’d face no hassle switching back and forth between private chats and group chats anyway.
If you have colleagues from different backgrounds, instant messaging them can reduce your language barrier. For non-native English speakers, it’s often easier to communicate in English through chatting than speaking.
Did Instant Messaging Kill Order and Good Conduct?
Companies maintain a professional image. That’s why they use signatures on their emails, which may include a logo of their company. They also use professional language for electronic communications. There’s no room for emojis, slang terms, and GIF images.
But instant messaging breaks those rules. It gave employees the freedom to communicate among themselves. They can create a private group and talk about anything. Some workgroups also lightened in nature, allowing topics outside work, like hobbies, interests, and even jokes.
Some business owners see this as a distraction, which disrupts productivity. However, there’s no proof that instant messaging and GIF sharing make employees less productive and professional. In fact, it can even improve their collaboration and communication skills.
Think about it this way: No one wants to talk to someone who imposes too much formality. If you won’t talk to someone in real life using your email language, then why do you need a separate email language in the first place? In many cases, you won’t even speak to your boss when you hand them a report unless a particular detail needs to be addressed.
Ways to Retain High Productivity With Instant Messaging
If instant messaging is distracting your employees from their duties, here are some ways to resolve that:
- Set ground rules. Define your expectations from instant messaging, and use it as a platform for reminding your team to be considerate, focused, and professional. An HR team should be assigned for addressing anomalies in instant messaging, like gossips, harassment, and bullying.
- Go offline after office hours. Treat your instant messaging platform as work-related technology. You don’t need it after office hours. This can encourage your organization to focus on other things when they’re not working.
- Don’t replace personal and email communications with instant messaging. One day, we will stop social distancing and staying at home. Email, meanwhile, will never lose its purpose anytime soon. Instant messaging isn’t a one-stop shop for all communication needs. It’s just a quicker way to send and receive messages.
Clearly, instant messaging brought more good than harm to companies. It’s our connection to each other and the outside world during this time. It allowed managers to check in with their staff easily. But as with any technology, it shouldn’t be abused, or it will really hurt productivity and conduct.