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
    TJ, 27 Aug 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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