As we saw previously, using IM is a generational thing. But how does IM work in an office environment? How best is IM integrated into proper office procedures?
1. Use IM as another form of email. If you receive information on IM, respond that you received it and will respond when you can. The instantaneous aspect of IM sometimes can lull users into a sense of non-response. Always respond, even if it's to say "Can't talk. I'm in the middle of something. I'll get back to you."
2. Be a leaver of messages. Especially when someone has an away message up, leave a succinct message and don't pester. Instead of using IM as a chatter tool, transmit the important message and then don't keep typing. Work is not the same as a chat with your friends online.
3. Use chat rooms when there's more than one person involved. Nothing irritates people more than trying to have a discussion and one user takes forever to respond. If there's more than one person involved in the discussion, invite everyone into the chat by using a chat room. Better to have everyone involved from the first word rather than having to repeat from person to person.
4. When in disagreement, try a phone call or a face-to-face talk. Nothing online is worth insults and disrespect. If you can't resolve your issues through IM (or even email), pick up the phone, or go find the person and resolve it face-to-face. I've saved myself hours of IM discussion using this tactic.
5. Respect your fellow users' time. Forwarding web sites and cartoons and news stories is fine, but don't inundate your colleagues with an endless stream of content that only distracts from work. Sure, it's fine to have a little, but a lot gets old fast.