A recent study by researchers at Ohio State University and University of California, Irvine found that workers who used instant messaging on the job reported less interruption than colleagues who did not.
The study challenges the widespread belief that instant messaging leads to an increase in disruption. Some researchers have speculated that workers would use instant messaging in addition to the phone and e-mail, leading to increased interruption and reduced productivity.
Instead, research showed that instant messaging was often used as a substitute for other, more disruptive forms of communication such as the telephone, e-mail, and face-to-face conversations. Using instant messaging led to more conversations on the computer, but the conversations were briefer, said R. Kelly Garrett, co-author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State.
“The key take away is that instant messaging has some benefits where many people had feared that it might be harmful,” Garrett said.
“We found that the effect of instant messaging is actually positive. People who used instant messaging reported that they felt they were being interrupted less frequently.”
The study involved 912 people who worked at least 30 hours per week in an office and used a computer for at least five hours in a workday. Randomly selected participants from 12 metropolitan areas took a telephone survey between May and September 2006. The results were published recently in the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication.
The key to unlocking the effects of instant messaging lies in how people are using the technology, Garrett said.
Instead of dropping in unexpectedly, many are using the technology to check in with coworkers to see when they are available. Many also use the technology to get quick answers to general questions or to inquire about current work tasks instead of engaging in longer face-to-face conversations.
“We find that employees are quite strategic in their use of instant messaging. They are using it to check in with their colleagues to find out if they’re busy before interrupting them in a more intrusive way,” Garrett said.
Because of its unique setup, instant messaging allows users to control how and when they communicate with coworkers. The technology gives people the ability to flag their availability or postpone responses to a more convenient time, and because it is socially acceptable to ignore or dismiss a message, many use the technology to put off more disruptive conversations, he said.
“People see a new technology and they are innovative in how they use it. They will tailor their use of the technology to their needs and their expectations. And with IM, people had enough time to learn about the technology at home and to find ways to use it productively,” Garrett said.
“It is not the case that people are engaging in extensive conversations or trying to resolve complex problems over this very limited medium. Instead, people are using the technology to solicit answers to quick questions from colleagues and coordinate their conversations at more convenient times,” he said.
Ease of use and similarities to e-mail could foster greater acceptance of instant messaging in the workplace. And while the study provides clear evidence that instant messaging can be used successfully in the workplace, Garrett said the technology will not likely be as widely used as e-mail.
Garrett conducted the study with James N. Danziger, a professor of political science at the University of California, Irvine. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Center for Research on Information Technology and Organizations at University of California, Irvine.
Kelly Garrett | newswise
Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research