Last year, ATOS boss Thierry Breton announced he was planning to bring internal emails to an end at the company.
It’s a brilliant idea. As his research shows, most of the internal emails we get at work these days are junk. In fact, up to 85%, perhaps even higher, are messages we didn’t actually need to get. Yet we spend hours and hours every week reading all of them!
That can’t be productive for a business.
That is all on top of emails being a distraction in themselves. One thing Gijsbert has commented on in the past, and that any “how to study” or “how to focus” book will talk about is disconnecting yourself from the outside world and not getting distracted by things like email.
So, over the past week at work, I’ve been “switching off” my emails. When possible, I read them first thing in a morning and shortly before the end of the day. Between then I close my email client and get on with actually doing my job – writing code!
Overall, I’m more productive. I’m not missing important emails either. I was expecting a lot of people to come to me and say “did you read my email yet?”, but nobody has. Nobody! You could almost argue that as it wasn’t important enough for them to come chasing me up, was it really important to send to me in the first place?
Of course, this isn’t the same thing as banning internal email, but what I think it shows is that emails have, on the whole, not become more of a burden than a benefit and the workplace can be made more productive by finding alternative routes of communication.