As a business communication platform, we understand that a major deterrent to IM at work is the widespread belief that it leads to increased interruptions and decreased productivity.
When used correctly, instant messaging platforms in the workplace can be an effective communication tool for employees — particularly for those with multiple international offices and dispersed workforces.
Listed below are a few reasons to support our claim.
Benefits of instant messaging at the workplace
It keeps your inbox relevant
Email is the go-to form of formal communication in most organisations, but many messages we send through it are not entirely necessary.
Think about the time you sent an email to your team calling in sick and got multiple iterations of “get well soon” for hours after it.
By contrast, most instant messaging platforms come with some form of “reaction” to your message, whether it be adding an emoji to what you sent, or if you’re using Eko, a quick acknowledgement.
These “reactions” keep your inbox clean for formal communication between clients, business partners, and executives.
It saves time
Our recent survey of the top retail stores in UK found that 100% of employees use instant messaging platforms at work.
Why? Because they believe it’s faster and easier to get in touch with their coworkers through IM than email.
Studies prove that sending, and waiting for emails can take up to 25% 1 of an employee’s time every single day.
Instant messaging minimises response times, so conversations that would take hours to complete on email are reduced to minutes, helping workplace efficiency.
Which brings us to our next point…
It increases productivity
An instant messaging platform’s utility lies in its speed and brevity, which means it turns information sharing between colleagues into a quick and painless process.
What happens when your employees get the information they need to complete their work instantaneously?
They stay focused and engaged — both central elements to overall productivity.
In fact, Mckinsey’s research 2 found that use of IM and other social technologies, instead of only email, led to a 20-25% increase in productivity.
It encourages communication
When it comes to collaboration, the more avenues your team has to communicate with each other, the better.
When emails are your business’s primary form of communication, colleagues can be hesitant to reach out for quick questions or share an update for the fear of appearing over-eager or intrusive.
Instant messaging creates a space where coworkers can get their questions answered and updates acknowledged without the formality that emails bring with them.
IM also helps new or shy employees settle in, as they might prefer exchanging quick messages rather than a permanent email.
It strengthens company culture
Strong company cultures are built on healthy relationships between employees.
Unfortunately, emails do little to foster these relationships as they are perceived as too official and impersonal.
With instant messaging, employees can create non-work related group chats on shared interests like coffee or football, helping them bond, thereby laying the foundation of a collaborative, strong company culture.
Instant messaging platforms like Eko allow employees to showcase their personalities with the many profile customisation options such as status, profile picture, photo gallery, and more.
Profile customisation is especially helpful for remote workers in global firms, as filling out these fields can help them express themselves better, even if they’re not present at the office — so it’s no surprise that…
It helps your virtual workforce feel included
An increasing number of businesses employ a virtual and dispersed workforce for a wide range of job functions.
One of the biggest challenges for a business is giving remote workers a sense of belonging, just as you would if they were physically present.
This is not possible with email.
Most instant messaging platforms answer to this challenge with features like group chats, voice calling, video calling, screen sharing.
An instant messaging platform like Eko also provides a central point of communication and collaboration between teams with its built-in directory.
Meaning, workers don’t have to sift between the myriad channels of communication to contact the person they’re looking for — again, saving time and increasing efficiency.
Side note: Not all messaging clients come with profile customisation options, so be sure to evaluate a platform thoroughly before implementation.
It keeps communications secure
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has warned people to stop relying on secure emails3 either to send or read messages because they believe email security is unsafe and cannot be easily fixed.
This is perhaps most relevant to the modern workplace, where cyberthreats are on the rise, as evident by the multiple large-scale data breaches4 in recent years.
The EFF recommends using messaging applications which come with encryption protocols to keep your data secure from hackers.
Eko employs military-grade encryption, ensuring that your data stays safe even if one message gets compromised.
Tips to keep your instant messaging platform productive
For companies still concerned about IM platforms distracting employees, we recommend the following.
Implement an internal communications platform
Instant messaging applications like WhatsApp are useful, but when personal and work conversations on it mix, it’s easy for employees to get distracted.
Instead, try a communications platform built specifically for business purposes, like Eko. A business communication platform creates an internal network where employees can only send and receive messages from people that are part of the organisation.
Don’t worry that your workforce won’t accept the new platform, because our research proves otherwise:
90% of the surveyed employees would openly embrace a company sanctioned app with many wishing their company offered one.
— from Eko’s survey of the top retail stores in UK, August 2018
Make use of snooze
Eko has a Snooze function which allows users to mute all or specific chat notifications from anywhere between 15 minutes to 24 hours.
If your messaging platform does not have this functionality you can ask your employees to respect statuses like “in a meeting” or “busy” so as to not message each other at the wrong times.
Inform your employees about the Admin Panel
The admin panel on most messaging applications does not allow you to read employee messages, but it gives you a birds-eye view of all the chats created, a number of messages exchanged, and more.
Just being transparent with your employees will keep them on their best behaviour, however, assure them that having some fun won’t hurt — after all, everyone needs a distraction from work once in a while.
Despite the stereotypes that Instant Messaging decreases productivity, it’s not something to be feared. IM is a tool, and it works well if you use it for its intended purpose.
The Business Transformation Network has shared this article in partnership with EkoApp.