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 02, 2006

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.


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