Josh's INET independent study, Spring 2006

My semester-long journal guiding all my readers through the independent study I am doing as part of the Internet Studies minor with Professor Hickey at Brandeis.

Location: Waltham, Massachusetts, United States

April 03, 2006

Another Article...

Workplace IM Showing Growth

This article is quite similar to the last one in that it gives some statistics related to IMing in the workplace. The prediction is also that, as the current IM generation (Generation Y) moves on into the workforce, IMs wil become an increasingly used method of communication at the office.

Apprently 62% of 18-27 year old online Americans use IM, while just 37% of those between the ages of 28 and 39 do. Although we will have to wait and see how the numbers wind up several years from now, it is extremely likely, as these articles predict, that this younger generation will cause IM technology to be prevalent throughout the workforce and corporate America.

Once companies become more comfortable with the increasingly more secure IM technology, that will also provide more reason to believe that IM will be more popular among workplaces everywhere. Management will realize that IM is a tool that promotes greater productivity (as opposed to slacking off) and worker satisfaction.

Predictions about IMs at Work in the Future

IM Transforming

This article discusses the main uses of IMing: the basics, the social aspect of it, using it at work, and the future potential of instant messenger programs (such as AIM). Similar to other articles I have posted on this blog, this one says that most workers have positive reactions regarding IMing at work, but there are those few who believe IM has a negative effect at the workplace when it comes to teamwork.

One aspect of this article that I found interesting is how it related the usage of IM in the workplace to the way college students (like myself) use IM. According to the article, 75% of college students use IM in general, for whatever reason. The author continues to go on to say that as current college students of this IM generation gradually enter the workforce, they will bring their instant messages with them, and IM use at work will drastically increase. One researcher noted, "I would expect that IM use will grow within the workplace. As younger users age and move into management and positions of greater responsibility, they'll take their tools and comforts with them, one of which is instant messaging."

Another interesting point brought up about IM at work is that tech support can greatly benefit from it. Support personnel may be more efficient if they use IM than if they used a telephone since they can help multiple people at once as opposed to working with one person at a time on the phone.

The article's prediction is that instant messenger programs will continue to impact our increasingly digital society in a positive way. The one drawback it mentions about IM is the security issues (I have mentioned them in previous posts). As IM services develop tighter security though, use of instant messaging at work is predicted to increase significantly.

Some more statistics...

Instant Messaging: The IM Revolution

I found a website that gave some basic IM statistics within many different categories. Based on my research thus far, I will just post the stats regarding IMing in the workplace:
  • 27% of all users use IM at work

  • One-third of college graduates who use IM, use it at work

  • One-quarter of daily IM users log in from work

  • 55% of work users felt that IM contributed to improved teamwork

    • Only 4% felt it had a negative effect to teamwork

  • 50% of work users felt that IM saves time on work tasks

Again, many people believe that Instant Messaging benefits workers in that it speeds up productivity and saves crucial time. At the same time, there is always that small percentage who believe that IMing is detrimental to productivity in the workplace.

April 02, 2006

Statistics of IMing at Work (in the UK!)

The State of IM at Work

Similar to the article discussed in the last post, this one begins by stating that companies and their managers are not prepared for the legal and security problems that can be caused by the use of IMs, especially at work. While this article in particular focuses on IM usage within the United Kingdom, the content remains accurate for the US as well. The majority of organizations in the UK are unprepared when it comes to dealing with the potential security and management issues associated with the increase in IM use at the workplace.

Everyone knows the benefits of IMing at work: improving productivity, increasing the speed of decision making, and increasing the efficiency of communication in the workplace. It is true that most IMs at work are constructive. However, 3% of work IMs are inappropriate and potentially damaging to businesses. According to the article, IM "should be embraced, but protect your business adequately or the consequences could be severe."

The end of the article reveals some IM statistics that I found interesting as well:

-25% of IM users say they used the technology to say something the boss would not approve of.
-16% admit to using IM to send or receive sensitive company information or documents.
- 25% say they use IM to gossip about colleagues.
- 7 % of workers under 29 use IM to communicate with potential new employers while still at work.
- 25% of younger workers use IM to download music or movies at work.
- 45% of younger workers use IM to send pictures while at work.

Clearly, there is still a decent amount of people who use IM for non-work related issues while at the workplace. Once companies begin to manage how they allow their employees to use IM, perhaps these percentages will decrease.

IM Etiquette at Work

Office Netiquette: Instant Messaging

This article is actually on the website. They seem to know a thing or two about jobs and life within the workplace. Accroding to Beverly West, the author of the article, IM will eventually replace e-mail as a corporate communication tool. While that is the prediction, it is known that IMs at work give employees an opportunity to waste time on personal conversations. From the company's perspective, IM technology is mostly insecure and leaves company networks open to viruses and hackers. Although these are some issues that need to be thought about when it comes to IM use at work, many companies have been very slow to develop policies regarding IM usage.

The purpose of the article is to give advice regarding the proper ways to use IM in the workplace since not many companies have a set policy in place yet. The first piece of advice is to make IM use as least distracting as possible by using away messages so that people will know your status at work. Rather than responding to each distracting IM that pops up, the custom automated message will be sent to the other person.

Another useful tidbit is to restrict IM conversations to relevant information while at work. Since IM chats can become fairly personal in a hurry, it is a good idea to keep things professional. Along those same lines, one should avoid discussing confidential information via IMs. Employees must always be aware that they are using an unsecured line and it is easy for other people to hack into conversations and read them if they chat over IM, and as a result should not let conversations be too personal.

If there are company guidelines in place regarding IM usage, make sure to abide by them! Make sure to know the policy prior to using IM in the workplace. While most large companies do understand that IMing is a great interoffice communication tool, if there is no policy in place there (yet), just use common sense and don't try to test the waters.