Tools & Technologies

Being Email Free – Atos Origin Sets a Goal

Global IT firm Atos Origin has said it wants to become “email-free” within three years.

Thierry Breton, the firm’s chairman and chief executive, says he has had enough of the streams of e-mails which daily “pollute” the workplace. He has likened his campaign to the efforts made to “reduce environmental pollution after the industrial revolution”.

Atos Origin staff will instead be encouraged to use instant messaging, social networks, shared internet and intranet sites, blogs and good old fashioned face-to-face meetings to communicate.

However a spokeswoman for the company admitted Atos won’t be able to go entirely e-mail-free – and staff will still have to respond to e-mails from customers.

Speaking at a conference in Paris, Breton said: “The volume of e-mails we send and receive is unsustainable for business. Managers spend between five and 20 hours a week reading and writing e-mails. They are already using social media networking more than search.

Kudos to Atos … with some caveats.

  1. If you merely shift email traffic to new collaboration tools, instead of spending 20 hours a week reading and writing emails, you’ll spend 20 hours a week reading and writing stuff in other systems. Actually, it will probably more than 20 hours a week due to the openness of the new platforms and the effects of finding lots of extra things to engage on. Overall, there’s a high possibility of no net gain to Atos – which doesn’t sound good.
  2. I think you need to ask why all that email is happening today, and how work processes can be simplified or re-imagined so that the coordination and collaboration overhead decreases. If employees are scared of making decisions today and are using email to get lots of input before making the decision, merely going to new platforms is not going to change that.
  3. Groove Networks achieved almost zero-email before Microsoft purchased them. I can’t find the document / web page now, but my recollection was they got down to 5 emails a day, all of them external. Everything else was done through Groove Virtual Office. So, it’s doable.

This would be a fun project to have some input into – I hope they’re doing it right.

Read more: Atos says the age of e-mail will soon be over

Categories: Tools & Technologies