On the job : IM do’s and don’ts


The use of instant messaging is on the rise in the workplace, and many experts believe that it will eventually replace e-mail as a corporate communication tool. Instant messages, or IMs, allow co-workers to exchange information in real time. Yet IMs also present a way for employees to waste time on involved personal conversations. Also, IM technology tends to be insecure and therefore has the potential of leaving corporate networks vulnerable to viruses and hackers. So while most companies are reluctant to eliminate instant messaging altogether, some have also been slow to embrace it — and even slower to develop clear policies about its use or misuse in the workplace. Since many companies have yet to formalise their rules of netiquette as it relates to IMs, an unsuspecting employee who uses instant messaging can wind up in hot water. Fortunately, there are some general standards and practices that are beginning to govern the world of instant messaging. Here are some suggestions from admins who regularly use instant messaging at work:

Use Your “Away” Status Message: If you just leave your portal open all the time, you can get distracted easily with the constant pop-ups, and it can get very difficult to focus on the tasks at hand. Some people custom-design their status messages to let people know when I’m busy, at lunch, on a phone call or working on a detailed document — so people know they are busy without having to respond to each and every instant-message query right at the moment.

Keep It Professional: Instant messages can get really lengthy, because they offer such an easy way to communicate. Sometimes conversations have a tendency to get intimate very quickly, because instant messaging can almost be like talking to yourself. So know where to draw a line.

Avoid Talking About Confidential Information: Always make sure while messaging you’re on a secured line. Be careful not to discuss confidential or sensitive information over an instant message, because it’s just too easy for pirates to hack into old conversation logs.

Follow Company Policy: It is the rule of the thumb that you are aware of the company’s policy while even beginning to message. It can a great office tool if used properly. So next time you decide to take a trip to the interoffice chatroom make sure you keep the above information in consideration for safe and secured messaging

Common IM Lingo: BRB (“be right back”), BTW (“by the way”), CYL (“catch you later”), IMO (“in my opinion”), LOL (“laugh out loud”), NP (“no problem”), TTYL (“talk to you later”), YT (“you there”).