While I see how it can be beneficial in short-and-sweet doses - "Ready for lunch?" "Make it 200 pixels." "There's doughnuts in the break room." - for the most part, I think IM is overrated.
In the office, that is.
All the research points to the efficiency of multi-tasking being a myth. The worst thing for productivity. The bane of our lives in the 2000's.
And what does IM do? It facilitates constant interruption, the feeding of the never-satisfied, ravenously hungry, 21st-century, need-it-now, Google-dependent mind.
But it doesn't increase productivity, I'm convinced. At least for me.
Working on a complicated task, learning the ropes and putting names with faces during the first week at a new job can foster enough multi-tasking overload on their own.
Add in an onslaught of IM that just ratchets up the strain and breaks the concentration. Or at least, requires you start over at square one because the train of thought has been thoroughly derailed.
I speak from experience - but not at my new job.
At my new job, IM is verboten. Yes!
You'd think that would lead to email overload. And I'm sure at some times, it does.
But mostly, it leads to face-to-face conversations. Or a quick call to get an answer. Done and done.
And in the process, you get to know your colleagues just a little bit better.
Sure, there are times that I've missed it over the past few weeks. Technology can definitely help in many situations.
But largely? It's been a breath of fresh air not to be pecked-at by a constant stream of IMs from people I barely know, obscured by a digital veneer.
And so far? Really getting to know these people has been one of the most positive work experiences of my life.