Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Instant messaging less disruptive than the phone

A new study in the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication has some results that those of us who use instant messaging already knew: Instant messaging proves useful in reducing workplace interruption

...research showed that instant messaging was often used as a substitute for other, more disruptive forms of communication such as the telephone, e-mail, and face-to-face conversations. Using instant messaging led to more conversations on the computer, but the conversations were briefer, said R. Kelly Garrett, co-author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State.

I don't think that is anything earth shattering, but it certainly provides some research-based evidence that use of IM can improve productivity.

I went to find the actual research article and it has not been posted: Journal of Computer Mediated Communication. This research is to appear in the July issue and the latest issue listed on the site is for April. Oh well, they were getting a little ahead of themselves with the press release. Guess I shouldn't worry about a few days. The actual research was conducted back in 2006. That seems like a long time ago seeing as how fast this stuff is moving.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

I have not found this to be true with my coworkers. The following types of things are total time wasters:
- Messages with questions than can be answered with a 10 second Google search.
- Messages that are are chit chat, whining, or arguing pointless things such as why software product A should or shouldn't work a certain way. That's nice, but I didn't write the thing. It is what it is.
- The expectation that you have to instantly respond, else the sender will immediately call AND send an email. Or worse, call you on your personal cell number if you made the mistake of giving it out.
- The expectation that ANYONE in the corporation can interrupt you at any time with a question that may or may not be related to your job.
- A lack of respect for your personal time. If you are working at home late at night or on the weekend and forget to turn off the instant message application, I consider it rude to be interrupted with the pinging of instant messages.

I have to maintain a white list of people that can see me online and are able to send me instant messages. This has made me MUCH more productive. If someone has a question and puts it in an email, I will quickly respond. But generally they don't bother since most questions can be answered using Google or looking in product docuementation.