The use of instant messaging in the workplace has skyrocketed,...

The use of instant messaging in the workplace has skyrocketed, but it has yet to unseat email. Credit: Getty Images / iStockphoto / Rawpixel

Technology is changing the way people communicate, both inside and outside of the office, but email is still the top communication tool.

The use of instant messaging in the workplace has skyrocketed, thanks mainly to millennials, but it has yet to unseat email, according to a recent report on the state of business communications by Provo, Utah-based

One of its key findings: 94 percent of respondents said they recommended people contact them by email.

But texting is growing in popularity in the workplace, particularly among baby boomers, with 81 percent more boomers using it daily than millennials.

Cellphones have surpassed landlines in every category at work, with 86 percent of respondents saying they were likely to respond to a cellphone call at work.

“Business communication tools have evolved quite a bit,” says Ken Krogue, president of, a cloud-based sales acceleration and intelligence technology company. “Instant messaging has really taken off, and the big news is that the cellphone has become the medium of choice.”

Cellphones have grown in usage in and out of the workplace as many people have dropped their home landlines, he says. In fact, the percentage of workers who recommend contacting them on their landline at work decreased 14 percent from 2014 to 2017.

Meanwhile, 54 percent of respondents said they still use a landline phone every day at work, but only 6 percent said they do at home.

But cellphones still take a backseat to email. That’s not surprising considering it’s familiar to people and easy, says Krogue, “but it’s not very assertive, and it’s becoming caught up in the noise.”

This explains why instant messaging and texting have grown. The percentage of people who use IM daily at work went from 31 percent in 2014 to 41 percent in 2017.

Instant messaging allows for live conversation in real time with either an individual or group of people. IM apps such as Slack can be used on a computer, phone or tablet.

“It speeds up your communication so dramatically,” says Jed Morey, president of Morey Publishing, a digital marketing agency in Syosset that started using Slack this year.

It allows for one-on-one communication among staff as well as group chats, and archives discussions inside the app, he says, noting it’s much quicker than searching through emails.

Internally, it has cut down the firm’s email communication by at least 50 percent, resulting in increased efficiencies because staff members don’t have to stop what they’re doing as often, Morey says.

CMIT Solutions of South Nassau, a Merrick information technology and security services provider, uses Slack as well as text messaging for workplace communications, says president Armando D’Accordo.

Because of the high volume of emails it receives, the firm is using other “layers of communication” for anything related to service delivery or urgency, he says.

Typically, if staff members are in the office, they’ll use instant messaging to communicate with each other. If they’re in the field, it’s easier to use text messaging.

CMIT also gives clients options on communicating with them, suggesting they call, chat via a link or open their own self-service tickets via email, D’Accordo says.

While all this technology makes it easier to keep in touch, it also requires careful implementation, says Nancy Flynn, executive director of the Ohio-based ePolicy Institute and author of “The ePolicy Toolkit” (Wiley, $150).

“Text messaging is nothing more than mobile email, and instant messaging is turbocharged email,” she says.

The policies and procedures firms have established to govern email should also apply to text messaging and instant messaging, she says.

Flynn recommends companies have a separate policy for both email and instant messaging and incorporate a texting policy into their mobile-device policy.

Train employees on your policies and procedures, and on the risks associated with the technology, she says.

“When it comes to electronic business communication, it’s the content that will trigger a lawsuit, not the technology tools you’re using,” Flynn says.

LinkedIn is tops


Percentage of respondents who said they were likely to respond to a LinkedIn message, vs. 23% for Facebook and 18% for Twitter.


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