Email Seen As Top Internal Messaging Tool Through 2020

Email should hold up as the chief internal communications tool for the next three years. But it may then lose some ground to technologies such as instant messaging, according to a pair of studies by Robert Half Technology Inc., an IT recruiting company.

Of the CIOs surveyed, 73% of CIOs think email will be the primary way to communicate through 2020, and 53% of office workers agree.

However, email does less well in terms of effectiveness.

When asked to list the most effective channels for daily communications — i.e., for initiating projects — 41% of CIOs chose email. That was followed by in-person meetings (22%), instant messaging (13%), phone calls (9%), internal social networks (8$) and video conferencing (7%).  

Employees -- office workers from various industries -- listed email as their second choice. They prefer in-person meetings (37%), followed by email (27%), instant messaging (19%), and phone calls (9%).

Of the CIOs who did not feel email will remain the most common medium through 2020, 31% cited instant messaging. This was followed by in-person meetings (21%), phone calls (19%), video conferencing (16%) and internal social networks (12%).

Asked the same question, employees listed instant messaging (52%, video conferencing (23%), internal social networks (11%), in-person meetings (7%), phone calls (4%) and something else (3%). 

Still, 45% of the employees use email most for daily communication with colleagues, followed by instant messaging (28%), in-person (16%) and phone (11%).

That said, 76% say they feel the most pressure to respond right away to an instant message, compared to 24% for an email.

And 90% expect colleagues to reply immediately to an instant message.

But there are issues with instant messaging, one being the receipt of messages by 65% even when the person has a “do not disturb” or “busy” status.

When disturbed that way, 30% are annoyed, 29% are relieved when the request is important and 41% are neutral.

Baby boomers are most likely to be annoyed (38%), GenXers next (36%) and Millennials (23%) last.

Of those who stay online, 56% do so to show co-workers they are working and available, 22% to quickly access colleagues and 17% to communicate in real time.

Slightly over half of the respondents said their firm has clear rules about using its internal messaging platform.

Robert Half surveyed 2,500 CIOs in 25 metropolitan areas and over 1,000 U.S. workers. 

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