Collaboration

Instant messaging and beyond: transforming how we talk at work

From digital watercooler chats to asynchronous collaboration, instant messaging platforms are reshaping the workplace

Par l’équipe Slack19 février 2024

Remote work has made our jobs more flexible, accessible and collaborative. But there’s nothing quite like a real-time conversation at your colleague’s desk, where you don’t have to wait for them to log in or check their notifications before responding.

Thanks to the rise of instant messaging (IM), you can combine the benefits of face-to-face conversation with the convenience of hybrid work. Intelligent platforms like Slack can even make messaging more productive. Discover how to get the most out of your instant messaging platform—and leave those lengthy email chains behind.

 

What is instant messaging?

Instant messaging is a form of digital, written communication that happens in real time. Two or more people message each other in a text-based interface and have an “instant” back-and-forth conversation.

How instant messaging works

To IM someone, you just sign into your chosen platform, select someone from your contacts list and initiate a chat. Sending a message delivers it instantly to your recipient, who gets a notification of the message, often accompanied by a sound and an icon badge.

Types of instant messaging software

When it comes to IM software, you have two main options: web-based and app-based.

  • Web-based: Takes place directly in a browser (with no software download) and requires internet access
  • App-based: Uses software that’s been downloaded to and installed on your laptop or mobile device

Who can use instant messaging?

How do you decide which IM platform to choose? Consider the size of your office, the number of teams that collaborate, and whether your teammates will need access to video and voice chat.

Instant messaging for the office

IMs aren’t just for remote workspaces. In-office employees can use it too, especially if their colleagues work from home or in a hybrid format.

If you work in an office, you’ll likely need instant messaging software that can connect you to all of your teammates, whether they’re sitting in their living room or at the desk next to yours. To boost productivity, consider using an instant messaging platform that offers real-time collaboration tools and document-sharing capabilities.

Instant messaging for small and midsize businesses (SMB)

Small and midsize businesses rely on instant messaging for timely decisions and solutions, even when team members aren’t in the same room.

SMBs can also use IM platforms to communicate with vendors and customers, and Slack Connect gives users a dedicated space for all of those conversations without needing to leave Slack. Use Slack Connect to IM colleagues, clients and partners from different companies in one Slack workspace. Simple.

Benefits of instant messaging tools

The best IM platforms facilitate real-time interactions to help keep your email inbox clean and your teammates in the loop. And Slack takes things a step further than IM, offering additional tools and integrations that make virtual collaboration a breeze.

Use your instant messaging platform to maximize productivity by sharing files and features from integrated apps with your teammates in real time. For example, instant messaging with Slack supports:

  • Dragging and dropping files into messages for simple document sharing
  • Integrations with more than 2,600 tools that your team may already use
  • Threads to keep your channel’s various discussions focused in contained spaces
  • Reaction emoji so users can practice good Slack etiquette by acknowledging messages and providing instant feedback without blowing up each other’s notifications

Choosing an instant messaging platform for your business

With so many workplace communication platforms to choose from, you might not know where to start. Consider these four factors to help you choose the right IM solution.

Scalability

If yours is a small or midsize business, start thinking big. Will your current platform scale to keep up with your company’s future growth? To ensure scalability, find a messaging solution that offers flexible pricing tiers, works for globally distributed teams and doesn’t limit the number of users it supports. Slack supports businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Built-in security

When you’re sharing documents and sensitive data with your team, partners and vendors, you want to know the information is protected. Look for platforms that offer end-to-end encryption, two-factor authentication, and compliance certifications like HIPAA and GDPR.

Automation

Tired of manually completing the same tasks over and over? Platforms like Slack have built-in workflow automation features to boost efficiency. You might even find a platform with a friendly bot like Slackbot that answers basic questions and reminds users of important deadlines.

App integrations

Whatever communication medium you use, it probably won’t be a one-and-done solution. Your team will likely need other tools too, to manage workflows, schedule events and track tasks—and your chat platform should play nice with those tools. Keep the following integration considerations in mind:

  1. Does the communication tool integrate with other software your company already uses?
  2. Does it contain APIs that you can leverage into custom integrations?
  3. Does it have an app directory you can use to find integration options and add apps?

Signing off

You might look forward to your in-office workdays, or maybe you relish the work-from-couch life. Either way, instant messaging keeps you connected with your remote or hybrid team. Real-time chats make a world of difference when you have an urgent question or need help with a complicated task. Slack brings workplace IMs to the next level with async collaboration tools, third-party app integrations and a wide selection of unique, useful features.

Notes de bas de page

  1. Slack, Customer Success Metrics, 2023

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