The Ettiquette of Instant Messaging at Work

The Ettiquette of Instant Messaging at Work

Eee058b3188ecfedf6381b6a529a2f4b360e8b3c?w=240&h=240&fit=crop
Taryn Williford
Nov 17, 2008

A good friend of ours works in a laid back design office where the communication medium of choice between those in the office is AOL Instant Messenger. It's a great way to exchange information in real time without the blind subject matter and seeming urgency of a phone call. But it's also a great way to make sure that you waste at least some of your time answering your non-work friends' IM's with an "Im @ work, txt u later" response. So if you're in an IM-friendly office—or sneaking around in one that isn't—what is the proper ettiquette?

Here are some suggestions from Monster.com's career advice section for how to properly and professionally handle IM'ing at work.

  • Use Your "Away" Status Message: It's very easy to get distracted with the constant pop-ups, and it can get very difficult to focus on the tasks at hand. Take the time to custom-design your status messages to reflect your availability. A simple "On the phone" or "In a meeting" should do.
  • Keep It Professional: Make sure your instant-messaging sessions with co-workers are restricted to pertinent information and dip out politely when things get too casual.
  • Avoid Talking About Confidential Information: When you're instant messaging, always be aware that you're on an unsecured line. It's very easy to hack into old conversation logs.
  • Follow Company Policy: Many companies, particularly companies in which large numbers of people in different locations have to coordinate their activities, understand that instant messaging is a great interoffice tool. But other companies might frown on it. Find out if your company has applicable rules, and adhere to them. And if a company policy doesn't exist, use common sense, and don't push the envelope.

Unplggd, do you IM at work? Know somebody who has a messaging problem? Do you have any personal IM ettiquette that you want added to this list? Tell us!

[ Image from methTICALman @ Flickr ]

Created with Sketch.