One of the first projects I took on in my current position was to ensure ever member of our marketing team had a Skype account and a web camera in their office. We have our accounts set to automatically signs us into Skype when we sign into our work computer (this is the default in Skype). This allows our team members to know when we’re online and available to engage in conversation.
They key is to not abuse the online feature, but instead to be able to diminish unnecessary emails by engaging in real time to answer important questions from your colleagues. We have all been in the situation where a simple email soon turns into a volley of responses, in upwards of 10-15 replies. You make the comment to yourself: “this would have been a lot easier if we could have just talked on the phone.”
With Skype chat you can engage in a real time discussion over instant message (IM) with your colleague to solve the problem or answer a question. If you aren’t able to come to a resolution after several minutes on IM then you simply hit the call button and speak with them face-to-face, literally, to finish the discussion.
This method can actually save you time and improve efficiency because instead of writing those 10+ responses, and wasting the time in between the recipient’s response to your messages, you can solve it with a 5-10 minute dedicated interaction.
My suggestion is that you have a few hours every day where you’re status is set to “busy” or “offline” to avoid constant interruptions so you can focus on projects that require dedication and concentration.