It sounds like an impossible feat.
But Atos, an international IT services company, announced that it will ban e-mails because the big boss, Thierry Breton, considers 90 percent of them a waste of time, according to a New York Times article.
The goal of getting rid of what’s become the most common way we communicate in work settings is to get employees to spend more time talking to each other in person, on the phone or via “real time” tools like IM-ing and Twitter.
It sparked an interesting debate on the Times site, and I thought we could discuss it here.
For me, I have a love-hate relationship with e-mail. I love the ease, the efficiency, the one-sided conversations it affords. But I hate checking them, getting spammed, trying to find an efficient way of organizing messages. It really only adds to my stress load — instead of reducing it.
And I feel like I can get a lot more done when I talk to people face-to-face. Meetings, as much as we all hate them, can be productive. We get everyone in the same room and get a lot of answers to questions, a lot of decisions made. It’s easier for me to get an answer from someone over the phone than through websites or e-mails — but it requires a bit more work in that I have to actually engage in a conversation with someone, which is something we try to avoid with technology.
See the challenge.
But banning the use of e-mail entirely seems a bit extreme — and unrealistic. But it’s an interesting experiment.
What do you think? Are e-mails a waste of time? Would we be more productive if that was limited?
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I don’t think e-mails at work are a waste of time, after all, it’s a quick, efficient way to communicate with your peers at work. I do, however, get bombarded by tons of spam which drives me nuts! I’ve been filtering out the nuisance ones from the important ones and “un-subscribing” from them. It’s painstaking though.
According to the article, they are replacing email with a real-time electronic messaging system. This will work in certain companies, but not others.
There are easy ways to deal with spam in a corporate environment, if the company has competent system administrators. Some companies just don’t let in any email from outside the company. They may have a separate access system for external communication.
What works well for corporate communication may not be practical for personal communication, of course.
I used to call people or go talk to them directly instead of use corporate e-mail. My reasons were typical: felt like I was being stonewalled, wanted to make sure people were actually working, and ‘damn she’s hot.’ Never will forget one conversation with an employee of mine. Them, ‘you could have sent an e-mail’ and me, ‘you never respond to them so why bother?’ ‘well I read all of them’ and back to me, ‘oh crap i did not notice the I read it and I am ignoring you flag.’ Grew up in the management by walking around era and to this day have never found a more effective way.
E-mail is a fast and cheap envelope, and nothing more. Most of the content is undeniably crap, and that’s the problem. We unleashed an entire generation of barely literate people with only the slightest sense of, or aptitude for, correspondence on the world at large.
E-mail in closed intracompany networks has been common for less than 30 years now. Internet e-mail, outside of closed networks, has been common since about 15 years.
Faster an cheaper to send a document to many people? Of course! However, what we mostly find are documents that need not have been sent, to people who did not need to receive them, sent by people who have no concept of how to structure a message and create an accurate and descriptive subject line. I lean in the direction of “more harm than good” on this one.