I’ve come to the conclusion that the work place is not an appropriate scenario for Instant Messaging. As the Council moves away from fixed office bases to a more mobile solution, the need for mobile communication has become greater. The reliance on mobile phone technology as opposed to fixed line, has increased some costs. Some see the way around these extra costs is the Instant Message provision that Microsoft offer. There are enormous benefits to this form of communications, but it also has its downside.
When it first arrived in the office, we were all amazed at the possibilities that email offered. However, it soon became a problem when it was a lot easier to email a colleague than to write a letter/memo and even more convenient than the telephone. Soon we were swamped with masses of email, that we either did not read, or spent most of our time reading rather than working.
Now we have the Instant Message. An email sits the receivers inbox until they read or delete it. Not the case with the Instant Message. The thing about Instant Messaging, is that it only works if both/all communicators are online. But I suppose the biggest downside (well for our scenario) is that, unless your ICT allows to to save your messages, once the conversation is over, all evidence of that conversation is gone. So when your manager says it is okay for you to leave early, there is nothing to back up your claim if your manager denies all knowledge of their agreement.
The other downside is that there is no hiding place. An email can be left until your ready to read it. A telephone can be ignored with the claim that the volume was turned down. An Instant Message is in your face. You cannot miss that persistent flashing icon on your task bar.
I will use the Instant Message tool at work … it’s Corporate. But I will always use email, if I need a record of a communication. It is so much safer.