Email Free Fridays

from the walk-and-talk dept

Two years ago we had the story of the Liverpool City Council who banned all internal email on Wednesdays. Last year, it was UK company Phones4U that banned all internal email. Apparently, this sort of "trend" picks up one organization a year. The latest is Veritas Software, where the marketing department has declared Friday an email free day. The VP of marketing felt that email was getting out of control, so banning it outright (on Fridays, at least) seemed like a way to force people to figure out other ways to communicate, and to cut out some of the worst abuses of email. To make the ban stick, he even promised to fine those who abuse it $1 (and to give that money to charity). Some people can't help themselves, but others have adjusted. The fine "pool" is apparently up to $70, but it's growth rate has slowed (and that $70 includes $20 from a woman who "forgot" about the ban, and sent out 65 messages before she realized her mistake -- but instead of paying $65, the VP commuted her sentence to $20). What's unclear, though, is whether or not there's any real benefit to doing this. It's clear that email can become overwhelming at times. However it is a useful tool. Banning it outright, rather than encouraging good email practices seems a bit extreme. However, perhaps this "email free day" helps to force people to think about communications practices, and may actually lead to better email management on the other days of the week.


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  1.  
    identicon
    data64, Aug 26th, 2004 @ 12:42pm

    IM

    the marketing department has declared Friday an email free day.



    Would SMS be considered email ? How about instant messenger ? I guess blogs would be a deperate last-ditch effort.

    The obvious workaround for this rather capricious decree is to CC' an external account or better yet address it to the external account and CC' the person you actually want it to go to.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Seigler, Aug 26th, 2004 @ 2:11pm

    WTF?

    I don't get this at all. Email is one of the quickest and best modes of communicating. You can take as long as you want to compose the message, and the recipient can read it or not at their discretion. Face-to-face, phone and IM all require that both parties interact in real time.

    In my office, we use email for everything from meeting requests to file transfers. I suppose it could get overwhelming if people were basically spamming their co-workers, but it makes more sense to ban that practice rather than the whole technology.

    See also: baby vs bathwater

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Aug 26th, 2004 @ 2:18pm

    No Subject Given

    In Europe, will they come up with electricity-free Fridays too?

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    VonSkippy, Aug 26th, 2004 @ 3:11pm

    Shaking head in amusement

    Apparently No Thinking days are becoming more and more popular around the world. Madness I say, Madness!

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2004 @ 3:21pm

    Re: WTF?

    "IM all require that both parties interact in real time."

    untrue with Jabber-based IM

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2004 @ 8:21pm

    Re: Shaking head in amusement

    Every day is 'no thinking day' at the Dorpus home. Alas, Dorpus shares with the readers of Techdirt.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    TJ, Aug 27th, 2004 @ 3:39pm

    and others way to misuse e-mail

    How odd, when no-meeting Fridays might be far more productive, or limiting the creation of committees and working groups to begin with. Companies use e-mail poorly as a business tool all the time in many varied ways. I know a company that has virtually replaced paper memos with e-mail; largely sensible and effective. But several high-level managers have stated that they are too busy to read their e-mail, and that hundreds of messages pile up a month. Some solve it by selecting everything older than one month and deleting it, even if they've never read it. The logic: If it is important someone will follow-up. Considering that information is a rather valuable tool in making management decisions, the practice makes no sense to me. Plus, staff then burn valuable time following up on matters that could have been dealt with more quickly and efficiently if the manager knob had read his e-mail.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Chris Reuter, Aug 30th, 2004 @ 8:27am

    How about

    Nah. That would never work.

    The real problem is that people use Email for everything. In particular, they use it as a group medium as well as a person-to-person medium and don't make any distinction between them. So, when someone needs to announce the charity bake sale, they typically just email the announcement to everyone and you end up with a situation where everyone is drowning in irrelevant email.

    (The article mentions one woman who sent 65 emails in a day! Who sends that many relevent messages?!)

    The Right Thing would be for them to use something else in addition to email--an internal Slashdot-style website, say, or a newsgroup or Wiki--to publish the stuff intended for wider distribution. We know how to make those sorts of things present lots of information in a comprehensible way. Then, they could reserve email for one-to-one communication.

    Of course, that's going to be an uphill battle. Most people seem to learn one tool and then use it for everything--I've seen all sorts of horrors perpetrated as Excel spreadsheets--so my suspicion is that most non-techies aren't going to be bothered to learn a new thing without lots of encouragement.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    brett, Sep 2nd, 2004 @ 10:27am

    i agree

    email is a tool, but our culture isn't using it right. there are many ways to swing a hammer too, but have you ever seen your co-workers try and build something? techies know how to use email, accountants and secretaries may not, so forcing them to re-think modes of communication is a good thing. i know i'm a culprit of misinterpretting an email and responding rashly. others do it too. if we would get up out of our desks and go talk to someone - problem solved.

    although i am a huge proponent of email and use is constantly, i see the perils.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Brandon, Dec 9th, 2006 @ 12:24pm

    Missing the Point

    People here seem to be missing the point, the point of it is not to slow down communication, but to improve relationships and networking. To email someone you don't need to know them at all. Just look at all the spam that people recieve. Email is definately an easy way to communicate, but there are things that cannot be sent over the internet. Especially when working with a client, face to face meetings, or even over the phone meetings are much better than email. It allows your client to really see who you are. Often times in an email, the same sentence can be read in many different ways. So the point of this is not to slow down work or reduce spam, but rather to improve relationships, networking, and communication skills.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Freak, Oct 7th, 2007 @ 11:01am

    I work for a biotech company that implemented email-free Fridays, and we noticed a clear improvement in co-workers relationships, creativity, communication skills and, believe it or not, productivity. Because sometimes, thinking about a problem 2-3 people at a time is MUCH more efficient than sending back-and-forth meaningless one-liners that can be easily misinterpreted. But I guess it depends on the type or company, and the type of people you are working with...

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    min, Dec 7th, 2007 @ 9:58am

    Phone's ringing and ringing? Silence! :))

    I have to say as a programmer, and I am sure there are many occupations out there similar that if I had phones ringing around me as well as my own along with people's cells and the loud intercom phone usage I would only be able to concentrate on writing code during my lunch hour! lol. It is not realistic in my opinion (and my trade) also for the simple reason that email is a written proof of many things as opposed to confusions or misunderstandings over details that a client can take advantage of (and they do in my trade :)).

    So before the higher ups ban a whole corporation please consider the need to focus in peace and quiet for certain groups, and also keep in mind the importance of a quiet environment for some and that it takes 20 minutes to attain a high level of concentration. Once that is broken, one has to start all over.

    I noticed that these things are often forced rather than encouraged and I do not agree with forcing people to communicate outside of their comfort natural zone. Can you tell I am not a phone person: *laugh*

    My two sense :))

     

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