Instant messaging gaining popularity in U.S. workplaces

More than 11 million workers use IM, though many doubt the benefits

About 11 million workers in the United States use instant messaging at work, according to a report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

That’s about 21 per cent of all instant messenger (IM) users. The most popular IM software in the workplace is AOL, followed by Yahoo and Microsoft.

And while the use of IM in the workplace is widespread, it’s not necessarily popular among those who are firing it up in the office. While 40 per cent think IM has led to better teamwork, 32 per cent said it encourages office gossip and nearly one in 10 workers found it distracting. It’s also adding more stress, according to five per cent of the users.

“There’s no doubt that IM use will intensify,” said Amanda Lenhart, research specialist at Pew. “Younger Americans, in particular, have incorporated IM into their lives. IM use at home and in the workplace will grow as these creative and time-saving uses of the technology percolate through the generations.”

The report, How Americans use Instant Messaging, was released Sept. 1, 2004. All numerical data was gathered through telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates between Feb. 3 and March 1, 2004, among a sample of 2,204 adults aged 18 and older.

For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95 per cent confidence that the margin of error is within two percentage points.

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