The concept of using instant messaging (IM) in the workplace isn’t always met with equally instant positivity. Visions of employees using a messaging app to carry on their social chat during working hours, and team members collaborating over what time to meet in the pub, put many business owners off.
After all, phone calls, meetings and face-to-face interaction have worked okay up to this point, right? In fact, instant messaging in the workplace is now more effective than ever before – here’s how you can make use of its many benefits.
In reality, it never was. The problems that most businesses have experienced with instant messaging platforms have been internal. Early versions of the technology simply proved too problematic to manage without IT support, and internal business processes were too slow to adapt.
With staff sticking to what worked for them, instant messaging became just another aspect of office communications, with no policy as to which platform would be used for specific processes and instructions.
However, now that the technology is much more mainstream, people are accustomed to using instant messaging to deal with other businesses, enquire about services and purchase products. Therefore, the temptation to continue general office chat throughout the day simply isn’t there.
In fact, one of the biggest benefits of workplace instant messaging is its potential for encouraging workers to engage in informal but productive chat and official business with peers and colleagues.
With the simple setup of dedicated instant messaging groups, it has never been easier to keep a team on track. Though by no means a replacement for regular meetings, instant messaging allows progress to be tracked and new information to be shared in a much more manageable way.
Simple prompts, ongoing group Q&A and quick and easy progress checks allow managers to track work and staff to understand exactly what’s happening on any given task.
With the bonus of allowing ongoing, real-time communication, instant messaging is the ultimate communication system for supplementing team meetings. While nobody would suggest that a business could afford to drop one or the other entirely, it is widely acknowledged that a good mix of both communications methods is highly effective.
If you’ve yet to make use of this platform, consider the working hours involved in team meetings – and ask yourself what you could do with that time were you able to reduce their frequency.
Such is the popularity of instant messaging as a medium for business communications that IM platforms now come as standard with many collaborative working technologies. Unified communications (UC), for instance, is a cloud-based technology that puts all internal and external communications methods on one platform. Instant messaging works perfectly through UC, allowing for the seamless sharing of information and documentation between relevant users.
Any business with a network of computers and telephones is unlikely to encounter any significant issues while implementing a UC platform. Furthermore, the company can begin to utilise the platform’s many benefits almost instantly. The instant messaging applications within each UC package provide an instant connection between every user, remote working and long distance staff included, and can also be added to mobile devices.
This almost brings us full circle on the concept of instant messaging in the workplace. Part of the end result is that employees could each have, on their smartphones, an instant messaging platform which is used just for work.
While this does conjure those worrying visions of social and workplace chat overlapping, you can also empower your staff with the responsibility to use the application appropriately. As trust and loyalty are often by-products of good communication, too, it could be the best decision you make this year.