Jason Fried has posted an excellent essay warning about how disruptive group chat can be to a company that hopes to get any useful work done:

As a company, we’ve been around group/business chat longer than just about any other company in business today. In addition to hearing from our customers for years, our own daily experiences over ten years of extensive group chatting have taught us a lot about what works and what doesn’t. All together, we’ve messaged nearly 10,000,000 lines to one another at 37signals/Basecamp since 2006.

What we’ve learned is that group chat used sparingly in a few very specific situations makes a lot of sense. What makes a lot less sense is chat as the primary, default method of communication inside an organization. A slice, yes. The whole pie, no. All sorts of eventual bad happens when a company begins thinking one-line-at-a-time most of the time.

One of the biggest pluses of email over the phone as a communications medium was always that email exchanges were asynchronous (in theory), freeing us from the need to respond at a time of our correspondent's choosing and leaving us to devote time to responding when it was practical for us to do so. 1 It's a shame to see corporate trends pushing us back to the era of being slaves to our phones (or rather, of the apps running on our phones.)

  1. But to be fair, M.G. Siegler also has a fair point when he argues that sometimes clearing the email replies you can polish off quickly is the best solution. The trick is to find a happy medium that works for you and your correspondents. If you're allowed the freedom to do so.