Internet Messenger Use in the Workplace: A Right or a Responsibility?

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Internet instant messenger programs and services, such as AOL Instant Messenger (“AIM”) and Yahoo! Instant Messenger, are as ubiquitous as the telephone, and indeed some may argue are replacing the phone in large part.

This can be both a boon and a problem for the workplace. Employees can quickly and efficiently interact with remote colleagues across the country and around the world, in real-time, and at no additional cost to the company, creating a written record of the interaction to boot.

But a new survey out this week by Meta Group has found that more than half of the people surveyed at 300 companies around the world use internet messaging for talking with friends and family, during work time, and more than they use it for work-related matters.

Relatedly, while very few companies have an out-and-out ban on personal phone calls and email (and how would you police that anyways?), sixteen-percent of companies prohibit the use of internet messaging from the workplace, and of those that do permit it, less than half permit personal instant messaging, compared with the allowance of personal email – something which 68% of companies allow.

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The question becomes, unless you prohibit it completely, how would you know?

To what lengths should your company go to determine whether someone was using instant messaging, on company time, for personal communications?

To what lengths can they go?

And, to what lengths do they go?

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2 thoughts on “Internet Messenger Use in the Workplace: A Right or a Responsibility?

  1. At my office, we use Jabber Enterprise IM for business messaging. Jabber is cool because we can interface MSN, Yahoo and AOL with it and communicate with all of our friends using those clients from work. Doing all that and at the same time, talking with my supervisor about that TPS Report I didn’t use the correct coversheet on.

  2. I use MSN messanger at work as do about 10% of employees out of about 100 with pc access, we use it for work & home contacts eg: our receptionist will send messages to us when we are on the phone, also staff in other depts will contact me for info & I can send them urls for info they need.
    We have issues with some staff who just use it for idle chat like: “what r u doin?” answer: “nuthin” which the dept manager wil jump on them for, but the majority of staff using im use it properly.

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