Last week, I received an inquiry from a colleague thinking through how much energy should be given to a particular piece of a larger project. I did not get to respond to the email at that moment as I knew it would take two or three email messages to get to a decision so I left it for when I had hoped to see him face to face. The face to face never happened so it was still sitting in my inbox this afternoon when I went for my regular afternoon email session. I noticed my colleague was available via chat thanks to the link at the bottom of the original message. I figured that things would be more efficient as we could exchange information and clarify understand all at once and be done with it. This was true but there was the unforeseen advantage to have the message and our chat conversation available all in the same window which also provided efficiencies (at least for me, I am not sure if google chat pulls up the message in question on to my colleague’s screen or not. I will need to ask him). It was very helpful not to have to toggle between my mail and IM windows to check facts of the original messsage. This is what I was looking at when I was chatting.
The integrated email and IM produced another efficiency – a log of the conversation that we had was associated with the original email message saving the step of confirming what was determined in the chat session in a follow-up email.
I also double checked there is a way to have conversations ‘off the record’ for the few conversations that would need such a feature. I did not see a way to Reply All by Chat – nor do I know if I think such an option would be useful at this point.