Effective communication is vital for performing essential tasks in workplaces. At present, Instant Messaging (IM) applications like WhatsApp, WeChat, LINE, Signal Teams, and Skype have become indispensable tools for business communications. Therefore, many organizations worldwide permit their employees to use instant messaging at work and reap benefits like improved employee productivity, client engagement, and client satisfaction.
There is no doubt that there are many other benefits of instant messaging. However, at the same time, it can be distracting, misused, unsecured, and used to commit crimes. Thus, organizations that use IM for work-related communications must know the essential principles and best practices they should follow to proactively avoid serious mistakes. Here are 8 best instant messaging principles and best practices in the workplace.
1. Refrain from using IM for sharing confidential information
Most instant messaging platforms have advanced security features. Still, security risks exist in some applications, like encryption weaknesses, virus and worm attacks, chat data logging, incomplete encryption, unencrypted backups, etc. In the recent past, there have been IM data breaches. There is also a possibility that public IM providers bypass network security, making the conversations vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Furthermore, hackers can impersonate users by hijacking chat sessions, making it difficult to authenticate the message sender. Therefore, as a best practice, do not use IM for sharing confidential information, which could cause serious consequences if they get into the wrong hands. Instead, use a secure channel or e-mail approved by your security team to share confidential information.
2. Establish an Instant Messaging Policy
Employees tend to use any IM application they can access for personal and business communications. Companies need to find out what IMs their employees use, the most secure IM apps, and how to record work-related communications from IM apps for compliance. Establish a clear policy on what IM messaging apps employees are allowed to use, what is not, what they cannot share, what information the company records, the consequences of violating the rules, etc. Educate your employees about your company IM policy. Employees must always follow the updates on the company policy and use it accordingly.
3. Maintain professionalism
Whenever you communicate using instant messaging, be polite and professional. . Avoid using inappropriate words or sentences to refer to your company, colleagues, or clients. No matter whether you are instant messaging your closer colleague or someone in your higher management, you must maintain professionalism at all levels. Especially in group chats, it is important to avoid mistakes because your message reaches. Also, avoid sharing too much personal information over company IM channels because organizations record work-related communications.
4. Use IM for brief communications
Instant messaging is ideal if you want to have brief and quick conversations. Use voice calls/meetings or emails for more detailed and longer conversations. For example, if you want permission or approval for something, it is better to lift the communication off from IM and use a written medium. Also, before starting a conversation, ensure the other person is ok to engage in the conversation. At the end of the conversation, finish it politely, often by thanking the person.
5. Avoid distractions as much as possible
Instant messages can distract your important work sometimes. For example, the employee may get too many messages, calls, and notifications with popup sounds which can be annoying. To minimize such distractions, always set your status. For example, if you are engaging with something while using MS teams for IM, set the status from ‘busy’ or ‘focusing’ so that others know it is not a good time to bother you. Also, mute or turn off the notification sounds.
6. Be mindful of grammar, punctuation, and spelling
While most people tend to adopt an informal style when messaging, business communications should be different When you are texting in the workplace, it is important that the reader can understand the true intent of your messages. Hence, ensure you send messages without grammatical and punctuation errors as much as possible. If you send messages full of errors, it may confuse the recipients. Especially if you are IM more than one person at once, be extra careful about the recipients’ language. An automatic grammar checker will be a good way to avoid such mistakes.
7. Avoid messaging when face-to-face communication is needed
Instant messaging should never replace face-to-face communications. While keeping instant messaging for quick and brief conversations, use face-to-face communication for daily and essential collaborations. For example, if the team needs to provide updates about their work progress daily, you need to have a one-on-one meeting with a manager, then IM is not a good option for it. Sometimes, facial expressions and body language matter. Thus, promote voice or face-to-face communication in such cases.
8. Be mindful of communication compliance
Be mindful of record-keeping regulations related to instant messaging apps companies need to follow. Make your employees aware that their business conversations are being recorded. Always use an enterprise messaging app that allows you to capture and archive work-related communications to stay compliant with electronic record-keeping and retention rules. Allow your employees to use only IM apps integrated with message archiving. By using enterprise messaging apps, companies can easily investigate any employee misconduct and present messaging records to defend themselves against legal actions.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Useful tips and helpful information.
You can unsubscribe at any time - obviously!