A revealing survey by network security company Blue Coat Systems on instant messaging: Three quarters of British workers use it for personal purposes in the office, including abusive language (50%), conspiring against colleagues during conference calls (40%), sexual advances (nearly a third). Americans appear to be better behaved: less than one in five participants said they used IM to comment on senior management or to flirt. One explanation for the disparity, according to Reuters, is the Big Brother notion. Nearly 60 percent of British respondents did not believe or were unsure whether their IM conversations could be monitored by their employer while 71 percent of US respondents believed — correctly — that IM messages could be traced.
I’d love to see some good, cheap small network chat programs to replace ICQ and AIM in the workplace, but so far I haven’t found a good one. Chat is a great way to communicate quickly; if users know they can be monitored, they’ll keep their flirting, outrageous language and Byzantine plotting to a minimum.