Welcome to the 3rd installment of Ask Amanda. You can send any and all work and career questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and get advice, feedback, and an unbiased opinion. All topics related to the workplace are welcome!
Dear Brown_Eyed_Girl: This is a tough one. Some business actually use Instant Messaging as a communication tool for staff. As long as it's used in a professional capacity, it serves a purpose. However, if employees are using it to communicate about personal matters, it's probably not the best idea. The problem with electronic communication is that it is 100% traceable. If the workplace monitors internet use, there is a chance that management could retrieve those personal conversations, which would not reflect well on the employees involved. The same thing happens with email. Some employees don't realize (or don't care) that whatever they send and/or receive can be retrieved at any time for any reason. So, when it comes to Instant Messaging, if it's allowed, make sure it's work-related. If not, you could be put on the hot seat for having personal conversations on company time.
If you have a question about the workplace, please send it to email@example.com and you may get your answer here!