Using Internet or instant messaging at work is almost natural these days. Because it is so easy to stay connected and to have someone provide a near instant response, there’s no doubt that this tool seems to fit right into the workplace environment.

However, there are situations in which it’s a bad thing. Instant messaging can become a distraction. In some cases, it can even become an addiction, dropping productivity considerably. There are disadvantages of using this type of messaging tool.

It Causes Miscommunication

In an article from Forbes in 2006, it was noted that not only is instant messaging easy to rely on, but it is also easy to misinterpret and misuse. For these reasons, the text generation tool can be just as worrisome to use as email. It’s easy to send the wrong message when communicating at these high rates of speed.

It Lacks Personal Touch

Another downfall is the lack of feeling. It’s impossible to communicate by text and understand a person’s tone. There’s no emotion. There’s nothing but impersonal conversation. Hopefully no one takes what you are saying the wrong away. There’s no way to read body language, either. In the workplace, it is a very effective way of destroying creative collaboration as a direct result.

It’s Not Safe

Another company concern is the lack of secured conversations. It’s hard to track what others are saying as well. Though they allow direct communication, they can also cause a security issue in some situations. They do not document or save such conversations. They are also prone to virus attacks and information leaks.

They Distract Employees

Even more importantly is productivity and the fact that instant messaging can increase it (through making communication easier and faster) or decrease it (such as when IM talk focuses on who’s wearing what instead of work related tasks!) Multi-tasking has a completely new definition with this type of tool. Employees become distracted every few minutes and work tasks suffer as a result.

Is instant messaging a good thing then? Though it allows for incredible connection and conversation abilities, it needs regulation in most settings. When put into place, these regulations can help to make this one of the most important communication tools for business environments.

What do you think? Is the use of SMS at work detrimental?