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The pros and cons of instant messaging and text in the workplace

It wasn't that long ago that there was no such thing as instant messaging or text messaging.Most big companies wrote their policies and procedures manuals long before "text messaging" even had a meaning.Because of this rapid change in communication and technology, there is a lot of grey area surrounding messaging in the work place.One the one hand, improvements in communication tends to improve productivity.On the other hand, you don't want your employees text messaging at work.This is a brief description of the advantages and disadvantages of messaging in the workplace


Messaging allows working parenst to quickly contact their children during the workday.Parents might send out a quick note saying "how are you?" and the child might send back "fine".Basically, the whole interaction takes place in about the time it takes to dial a telephone.Encouraging the use of messaging rather than calling home to check in might actually serve to increase productivity at the same time as it reduces a parent's worry about their kid.

Messaging is less disturbing to others than a phone call.If you have ever sat in a cubical and tried to get work done while the guy in the next cubical is on the phone describing his golf game, you may have prayed for instant messaging in the work place.Even if the calls are professional and work related, it is still distracting for everyone with in hearing distance of the phone call.In tightly packed offices, the hearing distance might include an awful lot of people.With the somewhat soothing exception of fingers taping on keyboard, instant messaging and text messaging might also be referred to as quiet messaging.

There is a record of everything said when using text messaging.If your employees are using instant messaging or text messaging for business you have a solid way of finding out what was said between two parties.This will be useful if there is ever some sort of a "he said/she said" dispute.Also, workers might be more careful about what they type than what they say; having a record of the transaction may serve as a deterrent to non-professional communication.


The main disadvantage of using messaging is that it is often used for personal communications.It is probably okay if a mom or a dad calls to check in on there kids once in a while.It is probably not okay if a sizable portion of the day is spent with your employees engaged in non-work related activities.The truth about work place messaging is that a large proportion of the messaging is not work related.Just like with cell phones, you will have to set some standards for use.Unlike with cell phones, it is hard to tell if people are diligently typing out work related messages or if they are going over last night's playoff game.

This problem is especially true if you have a lot of young people working for you.Texting has become one of the main forms of communication for today's teenagers.They are used to being connected all of the time and might need several "reminders" before they are willing to stop messaging friends on work time.

The other issue that can become a disadvantage, at least for text messaging is cost.I don't know how they do it, but some teenagers that I know are able to create $100s of dollars of text messages every month.(This always surprises me because they seem to have such a hard time getting their homework done).Consider the additional cost of texting if you are thinking of adding it to your business telephone plan.

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