Most business today couldn’t exist without collaboration. Employees usually need to work at teams, for at least part of the day, sharing information and ideas. Businesses that have the healthiest and most open collaboration environments are generally the most successful. What differs, however, are the media they use for collaborating.
A recently released report from the journal Computer Standards and Interfaces is the result of a study that set out to find the most effective collaboration media. Researchers measured and compared two work groups: one that used e-mail for collaboration and another that used instant messaging. The study found the group that used instant messaging was more effective and generated more ideas.
The researchers felt that instant messaging had several advantages over e-mail, and these reasons were outlined by Business2Community’s Tim Martin in a recent article.
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For starters, e-mail is a more formal method of communication that requires a salutation and a closing or signature line. Instant messaging, however, is far more informal and employees can get straight to the point. They can also use text abbreviations that ensure messaging goes faster, whereas employees using e-mail are more likely to type words out completely and watch their sentence structure and grammar. Aside from boosting speed, the informality of instant messaging seems to boost communication and eliminate barriers to creativity.
“[Text messaging] reduces the likelihood members of an organization will abandon a great idea while over-thinking or over-judging their email content and offers a quick way to get an idea out in the open before your brain has a chance to muck it up,” writes Martin.
Another bonus of instant messaging is that they demand a reply. Many of us receive lots of e-mail each day, and we often don’t get around to answering it. We know that whoever sent the e-mail probably isn’t lurking near his or her computer waiting for a reply, so we put off that reply. In instant messaging, however, the implication is that someone definitely is awaiting a reply – making it more like a face-to-face conversation – so the transfer of information happens faster.
While different organizations have unique needs and there is no “one size fits all” approach to collaboration, eliminating technological barriers to the flow of creative information between employees is important, and an increased emphasis on instant messaging may be one way to accomplish this.
Edited by Alisen Downey