The rules of Instant Messaging (IM) within the workplace


Sending messages instantly at the touch of a button could never be any easier than it is today. Friends and family receive messages, images, videos and much more in a flash. So, there is no wonder that most, if not all, businesses now use instant messaging.


IM within the workplace differs to that in one’s social life. A business could use instant messaging for several different things. The ability to share important documents, links, and messages immediately after being sent, only improves the speed of processes that occur in the workplace. Not only this, group chats can be formed to help with communication in certain departments and on specific projects.


However, with IM constantly used throughout our social lives, it can be hard to differentiate between how to act through messaging in a business and at home. Whether to be casual or formal? Are emojis allowed? Below are some rules to follow if you use instant messaging within the workplace:


  1. Stay Formal - Try to keep messages formal when speaking to colleagues and managers. Some text terminology might be permitted, but remember who you are messaging first, not everyone knows text speak, so stay as formal as possible.

  2. Check over your messages before you send them - Instant Messaging is fast paced, you want to send your message over and expect a quick response in return. However, if you rush your message the receiver may not understand it, slowing the process of instant messaging down. Business IM services do let you edit messages, unlike domestic counterparts. However, you should still proof read what you’ve written to make sure it makes sense.

  3. Short and Simple - Try and keep message length short. No one wants to read through paragraph after paragraph for something that can be summed up in a few lines. Instant messaging is quick and snappy, and you need to get the point across from the get-go.

  4. Don’t use emojis - Try not to use emojis. This links with rule 1. You’re still in a working environment, stay formal as possible, there is no need for smiling or crying faces. Keep emojis to your social life and try not to use them at work.

  5. Use IM correctly - Make sure you separate your social and work conversations. Organising stuff for after work should be kept within social chats/groups you may have as you don’t want to clog the work feed up with ‘what pub you want to go to after work is done’. Keep it professional and use instant messaging correctly when in the workplace.


Instant messaging can speed up the communication process within the workplace if used correctly. However, without following these rules you may hinder the progress made with IM. Also bear in mind that these rules are not fixated to every single business, and each company operates differently, some may encourage the use of emojis for example. From personal experience however, by following these rules, the business seems to get the best out of an Instant messaging system as a form of communication throughout the workplace.


Let us know your thoughts below, does your business use Instant messaging and if so, how do they utilise it?