When used well, instant messaging tools can increase productivity while offering secure information exchange in your office. Messaging works in business environments because it’s less involved than email, easy to queue and fast to respond. Several free and premium messaging systems that vary in both features and security are widely used in businesses today. Some of the most popular include Slack, HipChat, Yahoo Messenger and WhatsApp.
As with any communication tool, businesses should make sure messaging services are being used securely and for work-related purposes. The following tips can help your business stay focused on work while minimizing security risks when using instant messaging platforms:
While instant messaging helps speed up work-related communication, it can also be a major source of distractions. Taking an overbearing stance against non-work related conversations can be bad for morale; instead, your administrators should steer the conversation towards productivity in the following ways:
- Use a service that controls which accounts can talk to one another to ensure that employees are only talking to business contacts.
- Keep chatroom membership levels appropriate. The smaller the number of people in a given chatroom conversation, the less opportunity there is for distractions. Having too many people in a chatroom can make the conversation difficult to follow.
- Design chatrooms around a specific group or job, and make sure the name describes the room’s purpose. This will naturally steer conversation toward an appropriate topic.
- According to Slack, there’s no such thing as too many chatrooms, so don’t feel obligated to condense groups. Having more chatrooms helps minimize conversation clutter.
- Assign administrators to chatrooms to bring the conversation back on topic if it gets too far off base.
Checking Conversation Logs: When HR Gets Involved
Sometimes your business will have to address bad behavior on instant messaging services over both security and distractions.
Monitoring all conversations is bad for morale, because employees will feel as though management is invading their privacy.
It’s best to read employee conversations only if there’s a report of harassment, abuse or a substantial drop in productivity. Set chat expectations in advance to avoid the need to pull conversation records.
Your business should ensure your instant messaging platform has sufficient security practices to prevent outsiders from gaining access. Because instant messaging platforms save conversation history, an intruder may access untold amounts of confidential information. It’s also important to make sure employees are using secure login credentials. Administrators can minimize the amount of damage from a compromised account through access control settings. Additionally, many messaging platforms allow your business to control who employees can contact so you don’t have to worry about outsiders accidentally gaining access to group conversations.
Employees may use a messaging platform to transfer files with confidential information between each other. Therefore, it’s important that your messaging service encrypts data transfers. Messaging services that store file transfer backups in the cloud can also introduce new security risks, so staff should move sensitive data files through other, more secure means.
The IT consulting experts at MPA Networks can help your business find the right messaging tools that fit your needs. Then, through business productivity consulting, they can help you set policies that help avoid workplace distractions and implement secure technology use. Contact us today to learn more.