On IM Clients


I have a perplexing question regarding the use of IM clients in the workplace.

Is there a study that correlates that the use of IM clients reduces the productivity of the people using these?

I don’t know but I feel like I am more productive doing my work once in a while getting updates from my friends or colleagues. I would say, it’s the fastest and cheapest way (as compared to SMS) of getting information that I would use for the rest of the day or even in the closest days to come. More often than not, I would receive various messages informing me of changes, updates of the events that I am participating. These messages would either be quick questions/clarifications that is better understood when mentioned personally. While e-mail is another possible alternative, there’s no assurance that the person that you are trying to reach is in front of the computer and maybe with the possible of hoards of e-mail getting into his/her mailbox every minute, chances of getting your message heard/acted upon is very very low. The extra co-curricular events outside the office keeps my sanity stable despite the odd things that happen around.

Researching further, I saw the following line in a study regarding the use of instant messaging:

The same attributes of IM that create new opportunities for workplace interruption can also enable users to manage interruption more effectively, and our empirical analysis suggests that employees are more likely to do this than experience IM as disruptive. From this perspective, IM use reduces interruption by allowing users to create communication practices that minimize some types of interruption and negotiate the timing of others. Employees can engage in briefer, more frequent interactions in order to get quick answers to work-related questions with minimal disruption, to participate in loose, flexible collaboration, and to coordinate more intense interactions to protect time on task for higher-order activities. Personal communication while at work is also more frequent among IM users. (emphasis mine – superpatrick)

Now I wonder what will I do on my idle moments. No, it’s not that I don’t do my work but I finish work in the shortest time possible and I am proud to say that I deliver my job with the less bugs possible ahead of schedule time. Oh well, another classic example of office politics and it sucks bad. If they think IM is really disruptive, I guess they should address well associates who shout at others just to get their attention. THAT IS OBVIOUSLY IS MORE DISRUPTIVE not just professionally but ethically. You don’t address people by shouting and I guess no one deserves to be treated that way.

Edit: This link is related to my post. To wit his line:

Employers seeking to decrease interruptions may want to have their workers use instant messaging software. Research shows that when IMs are used as a substitute for other, more disruptive forms of communication such as phone, email, and face-to-face conversations, they lead to more conversations on the computer, but briefer & more productive ones.


IM certainly does have a place in business. But there’s more work to be done to define just what that place is.

Interesting. Unfortunately, I am just a lowly associate bound to follow orders.


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