We have a love-hate relationship with email.
On one hand, we send over 108 billion email messages every day. On the other hand, most of us hate working our way through our inbox. Email takes up 23 percent of the average employee’s workday, and that average employee sends or receives 112 emails per day.
When you look at these statistics, you begin to see email as a new form of knowledge pollution.
In fact, that exact conclusion is one that Thierry Breton, CEO of the France-based information technology services firm Atos Origin, arrived at several years ago. Breton noticed that his employees seemed constantly distracted by the stream of emails they received each day. So, he took steps to eliminate what he believed were negative effects on company productivity.In February 2011, Breton announced that he was banning email. In three years’ time, he wanted Atos to be a “zero-email” company. “We are producing data on a massive scale that is fast polluting our working environments and also encroaching into our personal lives,” Breton said in a public statement released through Atos’s website. “We are taking action now to reverse this trend, just as organizations took measures to reduce environmental pollution after the industrial revolution.”That statement seems surprising coming from the CEO of a technology company employing over 70,000 people in more than forty offices around the world.
But perhaps it shouldn’t be so surprising.
As I write about in my new book, Under New Management, an increasing number of company leaders are outlawing or at least restricting email. And as a result, they’re getting more done.Breton himself had