Learning & Development, Technology

The New Age of Workplace Communication Could Be Instant Messaging

Before the mid-1990s, e-mail was a relative novelty in office communication. Today, of course, it’s perhaps the most prevalent medium for colleagues to communicate back and forth. Although it’s been the main method of communication for just a few decades, there are signs employees are increasingly looking to alternative forms of communication for collaborating with their colleagues.

New Communication Channels Challenging E-Mail

New data from Rocket.Chat reveals that most employees are questioning the dominant role of e-mail in office communications, with 65% of survey respondents preferring to message and video chat coworkers through a single, centralized platform rather than toggling between e-mail and another platform.

Furthermore, less formal text-based communication—once almost exclusively used for quick touch points with coworkers inside the same organization—has become increasingly accepted as a medium for external communication, as well. According to the Rocket.Chat data, over 70% of employees now use instant messaging platforms to communicate with others, such as vendors, partners, and suppliers, proving that instant messaging doesn’t just have to be internal.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Instant Messaging

The Rocket.Chat study also finds that respondents prefer instant messaging over e-mail because of these three main benefits:

  • Quicker response times (70%)
  • Easier to share/send files (52%)
  • More intuitive collaboration (43%)

This doesn’t necessarily mean instant messaging is a perfect replacement for traditional e-mail—far from it. There are many limitations and disadvantages of this medium.

For one, it’s likely many companies will consider instant messaging too informal for business-to-business communication. Additionally, instant messaging platforms generally don’t have anywhere near the robust support for sending attachments, such as PDFs, spreadsheets, slide decks, and text files, that traditional e-mail supports. Moreover, established e-mail platforms tend to be better for archiving past conversations for easy retrieval and tracking.

Despite the many advantages of e-mail over instant messaging, it’s clear that the latter is becoming an accepted and valued form of communication for both internal and external discussions.

Have you introduced instant messaging as a communication option in your organization? What benefits could instant messaging offer your company and employees?