- ReportLinker, a professional search engine, released the results of an online poll showing that 43% of employees use instant messaging at work. ReportLiner polled 513 Internet users.
- The top four messaging platforms reported were Skype (29%), Facebook Messenger (22%), Lync (19%) and Slack (5%). Email remains the communication tool of choice for 50% of the respondents. Among the reasons cited for using instant messaging were efficiency (22%), team collaboration (14%), higher productivity (45%) and email reduction (14%).
- The most frequently cited drawback to using instant messaging was that users felt pressured to answer immediately (24%). Additionally, over half (57%) of respondents said they had no guarantee that conversations on work chats would remain private.
Instant messaging at work is fast replacing face-to-face chats around the water cooler. The trend is due in some part to the rise of telecommuting, which necessitates the use of instantaneous means for contacting employees. Interestingly, one 2016 study indicated that a majority of workers would choose text messaging over work chat apps when asked which technology they would prefer to replace email.
Although 45% of respondents in ReportLinker's poll said instant messaging made them more productive, productivity is absolutely a concern for employers; are the conversations in these apps really related to work? Such concerns have spawned software solutions that can monitor workplace chats to determine employees' feelings and emotions at work — not just the content of their messages.
In other research, younger employees have been especially adamant about their right to electronic privacy as it pertains to the devices they use in the workplace. This raises the much larger, fundamental question: When is looking at employees' electronic information and communication right, even if employers have the legal right to monitor? That's a topic HR leaders and IT departments should be collaborating on as 'enterprise communication' tools proliferate.
And proliferate they will: Even giant tech companies are looking for a slice of this growing media market. Facebook launched its Workplace app in October of last year, integrating a wide variety of features including video calls, news feeds and live video. Zenefits' benefits management platform now works with Slack directly, showing that chat apps have utility beyond simple back-and-forth messaging.
Amid the virtual noise, stick to a solid HR framework and school employees on the fundamentals of effective business communication. Remember, also, to step up enforcement of harassment and cyberbullying policies. These apps should enable your employees to be more productive — not destructive.