Objective: To discuss the efficiency of the Instant Messaging solutions in improving internal communication within a company. Methods. A literature review was conducted in order to meet the objective of this paper. Results. Instant messaging provides the co-workers with a possibility to share their ideas in real time. The acceleration of communication, improvements in privacy and efficacy make it the best communication tool in the workplace. Instant messaging is faster than email exchange, less interfering than a phone call and has an additional advantage of detecting the presence of the conversation participants. Instant massaging offers an efficient tool for resolving issues and questions, receiving feedback and improving general communication.
Key works instant messaging, chat, communication.
Email-based communication executes numerous important functions in the majority of organizations. These could be problem-solving, complex coordination, and social learning. However, this type of communication, in spite of its numerous advantages, has an important drawback – the time needed to notice and answer an email. Instant Messaging, in contrast, is currently gaining popularity in organizational settings, as it is a tool that successfully supports all needs of the internal communication within a company1. Being essentially collaborative, the modern workplace relies on efficient communication between co-workers. Numerous instant messaging solutions are already successfully used by companies for the sake of enhancing communication quality and reducing the time of response2.
Instant Messaging in the Workplace
According to Rouse, instant messaging is an Internet tool, allowing user to perform the real-time communication with other users by means of a specific application. Instant messaging is linked to the concept of presence technology, implying that the users who launch their application are able to see which participants from their contact list are online and available for chatting 3. Instant messaging is essentially a chat room, allowing multiple users to communicate in a manner that resembles a telephone conversation, rather than an email exchange. The response delay for active chat participants rarely exceeds several seconds, unlike the email exchange, where getting a response may take minutes or even hours. Additionally to permitting the user to exchange text and voice messages, numerous instant messaging services allow images, files and Web links sharing. The majority of instant messaging applications offer conference chat and calls 3.
As noted by Jones, instant messaging provides the co-workers with a possibility to share their ideas in real time 4. The acceleration of communication, improvements in privacy and efficacy make it the new best communication tool in the workplace. Instant messaging is great when communicating with clients and colleagues. Short messages are quick to read and easy to understand. These allow the conversation to flow naturally and easily between the managers, employees and clients, facilitating the settlement and development of the business.
Today, using Skype for Business as an instant messaging platform is one of the best solutions for improving internal communication within a company. Additionally to the chat function, Skype for Business allows organizing virtual meetings with a maximum of 250 participants. When invited to such a meeting, an employee can participate to it from any location without even moving away from ones desk. This instant messaging platform is integrated with Outlook and employees’ calendars. The information from the latter is automatically imported to change an employee’s status to “busy”, when one is in a meeting. Similarly, the platform manages the responses during the absence of an employee. Skype for business also supports remote users, allowing employees working from home or members of the partner companies to keep a constant contact with the internal working environment. An annual subscription for Skype for Business costs $60 per user. Business Essentials plan allows users to create chat rooms and video calls with up to 250 participants, start online meetings, exchange emails, store and share files, remain available for instant messaging during and outside of meetings.
Though certain companies, especially those with a higher number of employees may see a subscription cost as a disadvantage, instant messaging systems are proven to be cost-efficient. The companies that use instant messaging are reported to return on investment benefits in such areas as conferencing. The instant messaging clients make it easy for several individuals to participate to the same conversation, at a significantly lower cost than a phone conference. The conference chat members can communicate from any spot on the planet, saving on international calls and travel expenses. The instant messaging makes users stay efficient and less prone to distracting, due to the relative effort of typing 5. A study conducted by Radicati Group has measured the time that the instant messaging platforms spared in the organizational settings. They found out that, on average, companies’ employees saved 40 minutes per day with the help of the instant messaging. They discovered as well that an organization employing 5,000 people could save $37.5 million in productivity. Overall Instant Messaging can boost company’s performance by making operations more efficient and faster, for a small additional cost.
Surely, like any other communication method, instant messaging has certain disadvantages. Though the time of response improves greatly with instant messaging, the personal face-to-face experience disappears. Expressing emotions is difficult, while one may never be completely sure about the identity of the writer 6. Frankola noted that in certain cases the use of instant messaging could cause leaks of company’s confidential information, increased loss of work time due to personal chatting and workplace gossip 7.
In order for a company to maximize its productivity, the instant messaging platforms, such as Skype for Business can be used. It is important to train employees and educate them about company’s internet communication policies and the fact that this resource should be used exclusively for work-related communications. It is of high importance to train employees in the instant messaging etiquette, as clarified by the organizational policies. Instant messaging is faster than email exchange, less interfering than a phone call and has an additional advantage of detecting the presence of the conversation participants. Instant massaging offers an efficient tool for resolving issues and questions, receiving feedback and improving general communication.
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- RousseM. What is Learn IT: Instant Messaging in the Workplace? – Definition from WhatIs.com. SearchUnifiedCommunications. 2016. Available at: http://searchunifiedcommunications.techtarget.com/definition/Learn-IT-Instant-Messaging-in-the-Workplace. Accessed April 29, 2016.
- Jones K. How to Utilize Instant Messaging in the Workplace | Enterprise Instant Messaging. Blogbrosixcom. 2016. Available at: http://blog.brosix.com/how-to-utilize-instant-messaging-in-the-workplace/. Accessed April 29, 2016.
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- Frankola K. Has Instant Messaging Become More Annoying Than Email? 5 Steps for More Productive Pinging. The Huffington Post. 2015. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karen-frankola/has-instant-messaging-become-more-annoying-than-email-5-steps-for-more-productive-pinging_b_6815700.html. Accessed April 29, 2016.
- Radicati Group. Instant Messaging And SMS, Market Trends 2001-2004. Radicati Market Report..; 2001.