Eliminate Mail: Bring in the I.M #HR2020

How-to: Upskill your inhouse communication Get things done

Instant messaging platforms are not just a trend that takes place in today’s work environment, it goes beyond that - even in the early 2000s. Specifically Researchers noted how instant messaging helped to decrease needless, back-and-forth phone calls and alleviate miscommunications.

According to Harvard Business Review, " Instant messaging trounces email by offering immediate and clearer resolution to business concerns that may have lingered unnoticed in inboxes"

On the other side, The constant contact with your coworkers and peers, and with a smart phone and the internet at your fingertips, can be a recipe for time-wasting, misbehavior, and misunderstandings. But let’s be real for a minute. Every environment has its share of distractions if you look hard enough and the workplace is no exception, with or without smart phones and instant messaging. Still, how do you manage? Let us examine a series of best practices that you can implement right away.

#1. Direct is the way to go

Get to the point! Ask your question and move on. Instant messaging is mainly meant for back and forth conversations and thus the best IM is a clear and concise one. Review what you want to send alway like making a tweet - if you are approaching that limit then you might want to consider sending an email.

On the other hand, if the content of your conversation is so important that you’d better not risk a misunderstanding, or if it seems like the conversation is persisting into overtime, then try a voice or video chat, or even an in-person meeting.

According to Forbes (2018), "Text messages do have several advantages—which is probably why 68% of millennials admit to texting “a lot” on a daily basis, compared to 47% of their Gen X counterparts"

On the other side, The constant contact with your coworkers and peers, and with a smart phone and the internet at your fingertips, can be a recipe for time-wasting, misbehavior, and misunderstandings. But let’s be real for a minute. Every environment has its share of distractions if you look hard enough and the workplace is no exception, with or without smart phones and instant messaging. Still, how do you manage? Let us examine a series of best practices that you can implement right away.

#2. Safety first

With all these vast amount of free instant messaging applications in the market and business embracing them in a faster pace than ever before the rate of risks in increasing.

More users ultimately means more risks – messaging the wrong person, workplace chats straying off topic, sensitive information and data ending up in the wrong hands, not to mention the increasing likelihood of security breaches.

For the better good of your organization and your peace of mind consider using a business instant messenger

  • Skype
  • Slack
  • Hangouts Chat
  • Microsoft Teams

Having a private network in check keeps unauthorized users off the platform, while broad administrative controls and security features like end-to-end data encryption, peer to peer communication, and anti-virus software integration keep workplace communication focused and, most importantly, protected.

#3. Put the Work suit on

Forbes, Your workplace communications should always be professional, even via text or group chat. Let’s face it even the most eloquent professional cannot pull off a sarcasm or try to make a joke that will make everyone to get it.

When you’re in a familiar setting around familiar people, conversations can easily wander off topic. And unfortunately, that boundary isn’t always clearly defined. Keep in mind, many instant messaging platforms offer chat histories and archives – fantastic tools which can be used for recalling or confirming important details, but which can also be used to monitor your chats.

#4. Always respect the Life/Work balance

The fact that you are able to reach to your colleague late night or after work hours in general does not mean that you should - respect is key to a balanced company culture.

Harvard Business Review, Unless the communication is extremely time-sensitive, resist this urge. Most messages can easily wait until the next business day. You might justify the behavior by saying that the issue is top of mind for you, you don’t want to forget, and you don’t expect the recipient to respond right away. But the person who is pinged might project a sense of urgency onto the message and feel obligated to get back to you, even if it cuts into their own personal time.

One way that your organization can secure the life-balance to be in check even in an I.M level is by encouraging its employees to signing off IM tools and to respect others’ out-of-office status messages. Explain to everyone that any requests made to colleagues should come with information about when answers are needed, and that most conversations should happen during the workday and kept short and to the point.

#5. Face-to-Face also in-check

I.Ms are not always that easy to interpret them. Let me give an example, when a boss says “I think John you can do better’ in person it can be interpreted from John as either motivational or discouraging, depending on whether the comment is delivered with a smile or disapproving glare, with outstretched hands or closed arms.

Now, think of the same message as send via Slack - it’s harder to uncode it — unless you regularly interact with that manager in person.

So, even your company culture has a big part that is remote, it is important to ensure that some sort of face-to-face communication happens: one-on-one meetings, teams and department get-togethers, onsite introductions and seminars. Even video conference calls can help.

And, even as you encourage online socializing, make sure it happens in the real world, too; consider company picnics, social lunches, and community volunteer days.