Last month, Thierry Breton, the CEO of European IT services company Atos Origin, hit the headlines for his plans to ban internal email exchanges within his organisation in an effort to reduce information overload on staff. A bold statement, the strategy was bound to garner a lot of interest – both in the media and the business world, where the email overload debate rages on.
Arguing that the volume of email circulating within his company is now ‘unsustainable’, causing employees to waste between five and 25 hours per week just reading and responding to emails, the CEO announced his intention to enforce an internal e-death policy in 2014.
According to Breton, email is only necessary for external communications and employees should instead look to communicate with each other using a combination of social networking tools, like Facebook and Twitter, and collaborative social platforms. It’s an ambitious idea, but can he really pull it off?
Email is practically second nature for most of us now, especially in a work context, so Breton will certainly have his work cut out eradicating internal email habits amongst his staff within the next three years. But what’s more alarming is that, when it comes to communicating with co-workers in the office – be it over Facebook or IM – what’s to stop them chatting about sensitive work issues or disclosing confidential information during their conversations?
Social media tools are certainly an untapped resource within the corporate environment, but they can just as easily spiral out of control quicker than you can say “I heart Mark Zuckerberg”. Unless measures are taken to adequately educate staff about the consequences of their actions and internal policies are properly enforced (at the very least), the information risk repercussions associated with such channels are vast for any organisation.
Make no mistake Mr Breton, your intentions are admirable, but have you really thought this through? Perhaps toughening up on email etiquette, encouraging more internal phone calls, or even a simple “no email” day once a month would be a more feasible place to start!