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Can you live without email?

by Hu Yoshida on Dec 5, 2011

An ABC news blog caught my eye recently. It was entitled Tech Firm implements employee “Zero Email” policy.

The Cartoon is from a free email cartoon site.

Source: http://www.funnytimes.com/cartoons.php?cartoon_id=19950517#.Tt1KfnMwKjU

It quotes Thierry Breton, the CEO of ATOS, a Global French Information Technology company, who says that only 10% of the 200 messages that each employee receives per day is useful and he plans to eradicate internal emails in 18 months, forcing the company’s 74,000 employees to communicate with each other via instant messaging and a Facebook style interface. A spokesperson clarified that this was for internal emails rather than external emails to clients and partners. ATOS is trying to reverse the trend toward email pollution, which is increasingly encroaching on our personal lives as well increasing the percent of our work hours searching for information.

All of us who use email can relate to this. The first task I do every morning is check my calendar and delete emails which are not relevant to my business activities. Those that are relevant are often chained to several messages, which could be deleted after I read the latest in the chain.

At Hitachi Data Systems we use Exchange for our email system, but we also use an internal social network called the LOOP where Hitachi Data Systems employees can create forums and invite other employee with similar interests to join. In this way we communicate with interested parties without the need for long email chains and multiple copies of attachments, which get out of synch.  For instance, we have a LOOP forum for internal bloggers.

What do you think about the “Zero Email” Policy? What other ways can you communicate internally? Externally?

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Comments (1)

Lauren Klein on 07 Dec 2011 at 12:22 pm

Thanks Hu for your insights and provocations. Complex conversation given individual’s preferred interaction styles, their digital habitats and organizational culture. Personally, I think having a culture blueprint in combination with great talent, diverse leadership and collaborative structures you can realize new heights. This post resembles recent article in the McKinsey Quarterly and a few recent HBR blog posts.


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