Just last year, 2017, email remains the top communication tool. Not just in the workplace, but also for personal purposes. However, various communication tools are also now making their way to the workplace, such as chat and instant messaging. These tools promise collaboration and effective communication, changing the way employees correspond. But do chat and instant messaging increase work productivity? Let’s take a deeper look.
Advantages of using chat and instant messaging
The beauty of using chat and instant messaging (IM) is the real-time correspondence that they provide. While email is fast, it’s not instant. You will have to wait for the email to arrive. And, you can’t expect that the person you want to talk to is just sitting there waiting for each email.
Chat and IM are real-time. When you message someone, unless their status indicates that they’re not active, you can expect a reply immediately. This feature is especially helpful when you need urgent replies. Because of this, work can be done faster.
Easy to Setup
Another advantage of using chat and IM is that it’s easy to set up. Most chat and IM platforms are designed with simplicity but are highly functional. You can also readily access these platforms.
Just like with emails, chat and IM also keep records of your conversations with other people. This feature allows you to backtrack certain messages. Some chat and IM platforms also allow sending of files, making it easier to communicate with another person.
Disadvantages of using chat and instant messaging
Puts data organization at risk
While chat and IM also keep records, they all fall under a single thread. Unlike email that allows you to segment messages depending on its subject, everything that you send through chat and IM will fall under one category, whatever the message is about. Another disadvantage is when you miss messages and will have to backtrack (or backread) all the previously sent ones just to make sure that you follow the flow of conversation. With a study saying that workers spend almost 20% of the workweek just looking for internal information or tracking colleagues to help with tasks, data organization is important.
Can serve as a distraction
The instant feature of chat and IM can also serve as a distraction. For example, instead of focusing on your task at hand, you may be more occupied with chat and IM, reading and responding to messages. Despite not using these platforms, one common practice is to stay logged in. And when you’re logged in, you continuously receive messages in real-time, driving you away from your task at hand and prompting you to answer.
Do chat and instant messaging increase work productivity?
The answer is: it depends on how you will use these platforms. Chat and instant messaging may increase work productivity. It may also decrease it. Different communication platforms work for different employees. You may prefer using emails, but your colleagues may prefer to chat and IM. The keys to using chat and instant messaging at work are discipline and structure. Just like knowing how to properly utilize email and not getting distracted by it, you may also apply the same principles when using chat and IM. After all, having more than one platform for workplace communication will provide employees flexibility, and may save you 2 to 3 hours a week due to increased productivity.