instant messaging tips tools tricks

Business Instant Messaging is In!

Business instant messaging is a relatively new communication tool but it is quickly growing in its use in the workplace, in large and small businesses alike. I use it in my small business and have found it to be a handy business tool when used properly. Probably one of the greatest benefits to business instant messaging is the time-saving factor.

When you are in the middle of a project and have a quick question for someone from another department, you could pick up the phone, find their extension number, dial it, say hi (if they are available, if not you have to try back), ask your question, wait if they have to look something up, get your answer, say thanks and bye. That can take a lot of valuable time out of your work day.

But with business instant messaging, you open a chat window, type your question, and receive a response. If they have to look it up, you can continue working without the interruption of a phone conversation to side track your attention.

Instant messages can be answered when you’re on the phone, in the middle of another project, on a conference call, etc. I find it to be the least interruptive form of communication for many quick questions I have throughout the day. In addition, there are many add on tools that increase its usefulness like file sharing, voice chat which can replace conference calls, video chat which can reduce business travel, co-browse that lets you quickly guide folks to the right website, etc.

Many people still hold the misconception that IM is only for teenagers chatting on the web. But with all of the features, and especially the security, instant messaging is rapidly becoming an amazing tool for the workplace. Business instant messaging is definitely here to stay!

instant messaging tips tricks

Alt + Tab = Much better

As instant messaging slowly creeps towards 75% of all my communications with my work mates, I am needing all the help I can get to stay efficient. One of the problems I have been running into lately is that I have so many windows open and reaching for the mouse, clicking on the window I want to type in, and putting my hands back on the keyboard is wasting my time!

Sound a bit OCD? Well, you’re talking to the guy who learned to type in Dvorak just to increase his efficiency at typing. ANYTHING I can do to save a few keystrokes or reduce movements adds up to big savings later.


This is no new trick, but it’s good to revisit basics sometimes. When you have multiple windows open, you can click your Alt + Tab keys to switch between windows. This works brilliantly for instant messaging at work.

Here’s what I do: I use my left hand to Alt+Tab through my open messenger windows until I get to chat I want to type in. I actually use my thumb on the Alt key and pinky finger on the Tab key.

The result is that I don’t have to take my hands out of the typing position. This means I can VERY quickly type, Alt+Tab, type, etc.

Every little bit helps!