Instant Messaging a Productivity Booster?

June 17, 2008 ( - Findings of a recent academic study dispute the idea that instant messaging among co-workers increases work disruptions.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that the study published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication found that using text messaging at work is less, not more disruptive, and promotes more frequent communication among co-workers that use IMs. The study report contends IMs offer quick answers to work-related questions and therefore minimize interruptions.

IMing “gives you the most control and is the most efficient [method] for quick exchanges of information with other people” compared to face-to-face and phone conversations, James N. Danziger of the University of California, Irvine, told SHRM Online . The researchers noted the use of pop-ups can show when a recipient of an IM is unavailable to respond immediately – helping workers manage interruptions.

In addition, contrary to the idea that workers would use IMs in addition to the phone and e-mail, leading to increased interruption and reduced productivity, Danziger and R. Kelly Garrett of Ohio State University found people who IM tend to do so in place of – not in addition to – e-mail.

The findings are from a telephone survey conducted from May through September 2006 with 912 full-time workers from 12 metropolitan areas across the U.S. who use computers regularly.

The study is available at .