IM Reduces Interruptions?

Stowe has an interesting article which references some work from science daily which claims that IM reduces interruptions.  Well its a scientific survey and as a scientist by trade of course I believe all peer reviewed articles šŸ™‚

To me the work just doesn’t ring true.  IM is now my biggest disrupter.  At CSC (ps check out the new brand) we’ve had IM for years now.  But interestingly I initially saw a decrease in disruption … BUT … I now feel that IM is a disruption to me.  I regularly stay off IM and just use twitter for status updates and avoid IM (and email) for periods to get work done without interruption, generally in the UK morning before colleagues in the US awake.  I accept none of us can work in isolation but times without disruption are essential.

I do feel the survey, however scientific, missed the mark.  Status = online = disruption for me, in my view (not scientifically recorded) I get more disruption now on IM than I used to have just on the telephone.  Its just too easy to IM someone, dialling someone needs change of focus from computer to telephone and dialling.  IM takes no such input.  I’d be interested if the survey was repeated over time and analysed companies with varying maturity, and scale, of IM adoption.

…I wonder what voice integration to IM will result in … one for the scientists I feel.

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  1. I guess one of the dangers of IM is that ‘instant messaging’ is often taken to be an expectation of ‘instant response’. Without careful use of status, and due recognition by people of that status, it can become a bit of a free-for-all. As you say, interesting to see what happens as voice (and I guess micro-blogging status updates) start to be integrated.


  2. Stu,

    I couldn’t agree more. There are times that I put myself in DND and leave it that way for hours.

    I also think that there should be a courtesy question to start with when IM’ing someone.

    Do you have a minute to chat?

    or possibly,

    No, I’m on the phone at the moment, give me 5 minutes.

    This gives the person the receiving end a choice as opposed to just jumping right in.


  3. @Paul, I agree status messages are important, and I use away with a status message of “busy – interrupt me if it is important” however I find some people don’t even read status messages, they just say “hi stu” hoping that when my status goes green I’ll react instantly. Problem is I feel I have to check just in case it is important, so I go for @Denny’s method of DND or offline.

    I actually like the concept of putting a cost against communication. Email will cost X, IM messages will cost Y, IM messages to people with busy in the status will cost Z.


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