The Death of Email — At Least Internally — At A Large Multi-national Company

The Death of Email -- At Least Internally -- At A Large Multi-national Company | 40Tech

People have been talking about the death of email for a while now. Every time there’s a new, communications-focused technology, most notably Google Wave — and we all know how that went — email eulogies pop up all over the internet. It seems likely to me that email is here to stay, at least for a while longer, but if other companies follow the example of Atos, a 74,000 employee French tech company spanning 42 countries, email may actually begin its prophesied decline.

Atos has banned email. At least, they’ve banned it internally. That’s right, those 74,000 employees can no longer send each other minutiae-filled email chains that may or may not ever get fully read. They will no longer be able to forward jokes and silly messages throughout the company or the office. They will no longer be able to send on-line emails to avoid the potential perspiration of actually getting up from their desk and walking over to their friend and asking in person. I say good riddance.

Atos announced the no-email policy in February of 2011, but have now officially implemented it. CEO Thierry Breton, who was also the French finance minister from 2005-2007, said that employee emails are only 10 percent useful, and are 18 percent spam — which seems about right to me, considering the emails I’ve received in companies I’ve worked for. All to often, the emails would be useless time-wasters — especially the ones that involved questions from co-workers that didn’t actually read the email in the first place.

Atos isn’t leaving their employees without a digital option for communication, though. They are using tools such as the Atos Wiki and their Office Communicator chat program to allow employees to collaborate on documents and projects, as well as chat, video  conference, and share applications and files.

I think the Atos approach is the only way for a company to successfully achieve adoption of internal social media tools and, so far, the only possible negative fallout I can see would be dependent on the tools they use and how user-friendly they are.  They seem to be doing okay in that department, however, as Atos has reported to ABC News that employee response “has been positive with strong take up of alternative tools.”

What do you think of the Atos no-email policy? Is it the beginning of a massive “kill email” movement? Will it lead to better outside-company communications as well? Discuss in the comments.

Tech Firm Implements Employee ‘Zero Email’ Policy [ABC News on Yahoo.com]

Bobby Travis

Bobby isn't 40-something, but is a strong supporter of the Grown-up Geek kind. He's a loving husband and father first, but is also a freelance writer, productivity nut, operatically trained singer, and (not-so) closet geek. Check out his random thoughts, wackiness, and Instagram pics on Tumblr, Twitter, or Google+-- or just head over to bobby-travis.com.

9 Comments:

  1. E-mail will never die. Nothing on the Internet, content or service, ever dies.

    The advantage of keyboard centered communication is that people type slower than they talk.This helps to keep the communication on point. (This also applies to text chat.) In person or in video chat, it’s too easy to digress into talking about the weather, office politics, last night’s game, etc.

    Do I need to see my colleagues ugly mug (or they mine) to make the communication more effective?

    E-mail is also the way to go for conversations that span the globe. I’m on the east coast US and used to work with folks in Australia and Hong Kong. Fire off a question even as late as the evening my time, get the answer the next morning. No need for anyone to work from home or jigger their schedule.

    Also e-mail, for better or worse, leaves a trail. My butt has been saved more than once by being able to use an old e-mail to resolve an issue.

    • I agree that email will be around in some form, forever. Especially personally. In the end, though, it will morph into an aspect of social tools. It’s already on its way. The way it’s currently used in most businesses, at least internally, is more of a time waster than anything else.

  2. Unplugging email may be a European trait. Our Euro CEO acquired an Ohio company, employees wouldn’t adopt Workflow. CEO had the Exchange server unplugged and taxied to Boston HQ. The IT guy was fired so they couldn’t plug it all back in. Collaboration and accountability surged (somehow they got the email server back a few weeks later).

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  4. I like Atos plan of no email. Although my gmail is the first spot I go to when I’m on the internet, I’m as sick with it as I am of snail mail.

    I like the idea of intranets and twitter type communication services.

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