Two years ago, French technology firm Atos raised eyebrows after announcing the company would go email free.
Atos CEO Thierry Breton said at the time:
We are producing data on a massive scale that is fast polluting our working environments and also encroaching into our personal lives. At [Atos] we are taking action now to reverse this trend, just as organisations took measures to reduce environmental pollution after the industrial revolution.
Breton’s idea is to replace email internally with instant messaging services, social media and collaboration tools like wikis to carry out the messaging functions currently done by email. He expected to save up to 18 hours a week of each employee’s time.
Eighteen months on, the Financial Times reports Thierry is well on the way to eliminating the office pollution that is email. Lee Timmons, one of Atos’ vice presidents, told the paper: “At the 2012 London Olympics, we were able to zero-email certify some processes – a first – and (we) look set to be email-free internally by the end of 2013.”
Now Atos is looking at eliminating other business distractions, notably PowerPoint presentations and meetings.
Eliminating inboxes, PowerPoint and meetings from the workplace seems a noble cause. Few organisations would be prepared to even consider this.
For many staff and managers, spending hours sorting email, attending pointless meetings and futzing around with over-elaborate PowerPoint presentations is how they justify their time.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Atos goes with its objective of streamlining the workplace and how many other companies are prepared to copy them.
How are you managing your business email and would you abolish it if you could?
Paul Wallbank speaks and writes on how industries and societies are changing in this connected, globalised era. When he isn’t explaining technology issues, he helps businesses and community organisations through his business Netsmarts.