Overusing Email: A Workplace Issue, But Not Something We Need to Ban

Email is the workhorse of the workplace. Despite the talk that Millennials and younger workers are moving away from it, email continues to be a powerful and widespread business tool.

And, that’s why when I read a story about some company banning the use of email among its employees, I sit up and take notice.

Late last fall, French information technology company Atos focused on getting rid of internal emails between its 74,000 employees because, according to this ABC News report, “only 10 percent of the 200 messages employees receive per day are useful and 18 percent is spam. ” Instead employees would be encouraged to communicate internally using “via instant messaging and a Facebook-style interface.”

A business benefit, despite its shortcomings

Although the jury is still out on how well this internal email ban is working for Atos, the notion of email overload has spawned a great deal of discussion — in including this informational graphic that not only focuses on how much email gets sent each day, but also walks you through the “should I send, or not send?” decision.

There’s no doubt that email gets overused and that we are frequently overwhelmed by the volume we are forced to wade through every day. Yes, email can be a time killer, but there’s also a reason why it has become such a powerful business communication tool: because, despite all of its shortcomings, it still works fairly quickly and efficiently.

That’s why this info graphic onShould I Send This EMail? may resonate with you as it did me — because although we overuse email, it’s still hard to imagine a world without it.

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I get why companies like Atos would want to ban its use among employees, but before you consider a policy like this for your workforce, I would ask this question: is your business running so well that this is the most important thing you can focus your organization’s time on?

Unless the answer is an unqualified “yes,” I would wait on ridding the world of email until some of those other workplace issues got addressed first.


John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


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