A survey carried out by Symantec Corp has found that a "general misunderstanding" of IM with regard to security and informality has resulted in three quarters of firms shunning the tool, deeming it unproductive.
Yet data released by YouGov found that, when used "the right way", IM can prove an extremely efficient method of communication. Of those who use IM at work, 55 per cent said it dramatically cut the number of emails sent and received, while 50 per cent said it was "more efficient" than email.
The findings revealed that IM is used predominantly to ask colleagues urgent, quick questions, to communicate information and to multi-task. 45 per cent said that they felt the sociable aspect allowed them to build better relationships with work mates.
Additionally, itbusiness.ca points out, IM is real-time collaborative and allows for group conversations, provided all parties have signed up for an account with the IM provider.
To appease the fears of company decision makers or the CEO, Symantec has made several recommendations as to the proper use of IM. The first is to create and publicise an IM policy, providing guidance around how and why the tool should be used, i.e. keep personal contacts separate.
Educate staff on the benefits and risks of IM to enable them to decide whether it the right form of communication and to know that conversations can be saved.
Lastly remind staff that workplace IM should be treated as any other form of office communication, to minimise any reputational damage caused by careless statements.