Instant messaging should be seen as an important business tool, rather than an office distraction, according to the Corporate IT Forum.
The professional body, which includes over 3,000 IT professionals from 150 blue-chip companies, believes that IM can reduce email overload and increase office productivity.
Large organisations are increasingly implementing internal IM to complement email, phone calls and meetings.
Research conducted among the Corporate IT Forum's FTSE 100 corporate subscribers revealed that IM can prevent the build-up of unanswered emails because it is ideal for asking and answering many of the simple questions that staff tend to send each other via email.
The research also found that IM helps employees to become more productive. Office workers now use instant chat to avoid having to sit through the less relevant parts of often lengthy meetings and teleconferences.
With IM they can be kept informed of what is being said in a meeting without having to be present, allowing them to join in the discussion only when necessary.
Many corporations, however, are wary of using IM for external communications, viewing it a security risk owing to the immediate and informal nature of the messages.
Ollie Ross, head of research at the Corporate IT Forum, said: "Many people now send an email and expect an immediate response, but that is not what email was designed for. This is how inboxes get overcrowded and messages get missed or deleted.
"IM allows people to strip out the corporate spam from their inbox, the numerous copied emails and the messages that say: 'Thanks, let's speak tomorrow.' We are only now learning how to best use IM to help us become more productive."
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