Have a constant record of your instant messaging conversations may be great for some, and a headache for others. Many IM chat clients will automatically store and catalog a user’s instant messaging conversations with all other users, unless they have manually went into their preferences and have turned this feature off. When chatting with other employees and/or clients, I’ve found that keeping a log of all my chat conversations has been extremely useful. If another user has sent me an IM with an important website address, or they have promised to meet a deadline that has passed, I can go back into my chat logs and double-check my information.
IM chat logs have even been used in court cases as evidence! This is why, for some, chat logs can be a headache. If your network administrator and/or supervisor has access to your chat logs, and you have been using the IM chat client to communicate in such a way that is against company policy, then chat logs may ‘catch you in the act’. This could lead to a reprimand, such as less vacation days or no chance for flex time, but can also lead up to termination, depending on each individual company’s policy.
For whatever use a hosted IM client and chat logs may be to you, make sure that you remember that your conversations could be monitored and come back to haunt you. A good rule of thumb is, if you wouldn’t say it out loud or to your manager directly (or to your grandmother), then you probably shouldn’t be saying it in IM at all.