In February 2011 Atos Orign, an international IT services company employing 80,000 workers in 42 countries, announced its ambition to become a zero internal email company within three years.
Thierry Breton, CEO of Atos, explained his reasoning in a recent bbc interview as being part of an initiative called “Wellbeing at work” whose mission is to enhance working conditions. New members of staff joining the company were using instant messaging tools rather than internal email and this got the “Wellbeing at work” team thinking, how much time is spent on internal email?
Their study found that on average employees were dealing with 100 emails per day and that only 15% of those emails were useful, that equated to 15 to 20 hours per week checking and answering emails.
Is this the way forward? I am not sure, instant messaging has its place but an email is something we can file away and go back to, flag as to-do, forward to the relevant person etc. What if the person you need to communicate is in a different time zone or is not online?
I do think that companies do send too much internal email and this takes up resources unnecessarily. Consider the following scenario:
Employee A receives an email from a client containing a 5mb attachment. Employee A forwards the email to Employee B to deal with.
The storage space taken up by this email is now 15mb, 5mb for Employee A inbox, 5mb for Employee A sent items and 5mb for Employee B’s inbox. Depending on the email service used you can double that to 30mb to account for the emails also being stored on the email server, a 500% increase in the amount of storage being used.
To me a zero internal mail policy seems too ambitious and perhaps even reckless but time will tell, but one thing is for certain though efficiency savings can be made both in employee time and storage, which is good business all round.
The new Government Communications Plan might have a foreword from Francis Maude but the hand of Alex Aiken, the new Executive Director of Government Communications, is all over it.