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Pros and Cons of using instant message at work

More companies are beginning to use instant messaging as a form of communication at work. It used to be that when you would walk into an area of office cubicles you could hear some whispered conversations, but more often then not all you hear is the click clack of keyboards, with an occasional laugh. This is due to people using instant messengers to communicate.

Like everything else using instant message at work has its pros and cons. Only you can decide if the pros outweigh the cons for your company and if you are going to allow the use of instant messaging.

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of using instant messaging:

Advantage one:
Organize your contact list by groups. All instant messengers have this feature. You can separate your contacts by business, friends and family. You can also hide the group of contacts that are not business related. This is a useful feature so that you don't accidentally invite a friend or family member into a business related chat.

Disadvantage one:
While you can hide your friends and family contacts at work they can still see if you are signed in. They can send you messages at the wrong time or perhaps say the wrong thing. So if you are using instant messaging at work be sure to let your friends and family members know you are at work and to keep the conversation appropriate.

Advantage two:
You can get instant answers from people. No more having to wait for a response from an email you sent. This comes in handy if you are trying to contact one of your vendors in regards to ordering some supplies and you are wondering if they have them available or if they can find them for you.

Disadvantage two:
Distraction to employees. Your employees may end up wasting a lot of time talking to their friends and family members when they should be getting work done. In order to help solve this problem you should be very clear about when they can have these conversations with friends or family members and what the consequences are if they do not follow the rules.

Advantage three:
Instant messages can be saved. This is a great practice to get in the habit of doing. This will allow you to reference a conversation you had with one of your customers or vendors if the need arises. In order to save your conversations you just have to adjust your settings. This can also come in great use for training purposes.

Disadvantage three:
Virus infections and other security risks. With instant messenger you can share files with other users, but you need to be careful of what you are downloading. If friends and family members send you files at work you are probably better off not opening them. The good news about this is you can set up your anti-virus program to scan these files before you open them, which greatly reduces the risk of infection.

If you do decide to use instant messaging at work you should also be aware of a few other guidelines. You do not want to share personal information or sensitive business information through messenger because it is is for people to hack into these systems and take that data. You also want to be careful as to what you say to others. Rumors have a way of getting spread quickly and it can cause your companies reputation to be damaged.

So while instant messengers can be an asset for companies they can also quickly turn into a liability. If you do decide to allow instant messaging at work you want to be sure that you set some strict policies in place before turning your employees loose.

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