The mktg@msft guy, John Porcaro, has an interesting post on guidelines for using IM at work. One of this more interesting suggestions is to actually use the “status” (or “presence”) feature.
Our teams at work are (recently) spread out over many locales, and all of us have been struggling with getting the communication just right between everyone.
I’ve previously only thought of, and used, IM as a “friends” type of thing, but I’ve been noticing other folks, like Matt, increasingly using it for work. I even saw Matt mark his status as “Busy – Code Reviewing” yesterday; it seems he forgot to change it after awhile, but, whatever, it was an effective use of that little string of text.
The first hurtle is getting everyone to agree on which IM application to use; Yahoo!’s IM seems to have caught on at work, primarily due to the early adaptors using it. The other thing is getting people to use it. The most successful approach (for people in the same locale, at least) seems to have been a slightly viral, and very un-work, approach: the IM Environments, or, to use their silly, TM’d word, “IMVironments”.
The favorite IM Environment, no longer available for some asinine reason, was the JUICY FRUIT TOUNGE TWISTERS (those who’ve used it can’t help but think of it as shouted every time it’s said). You’d get the pick any number of words from different lists, and hear them played out in silly voices.
So, if someone who had IM was foolish enough to leave their speakers turned up all they way, you’d send them a burst of these tongue twisters; usually it’d be something raunchy like, “SALLY! LIKES! SALTY! PANTS! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! PERIWINKLE!” This was highly “effective” in meetings where the portable privileged had brought along their laptops.
Now that the JUICY FRUIT TONGUE TWISTERS is gone, we’ve been reduced to having fun with the “Brawny Man” quiz IM Environment which, while fun, doesn’t beat two solid minutes of your computer yelling out “WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!”
Anyhow, once people saw how fun it was to “use” IM in this respect, they’d take the trouble to download Yahoo! IM and start using it. Sooner or later, they just keep it running, and start using it for more work related things.