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Has The Proliferation of Email Made Us More or Less Productive?

It was reported last week that a tech firm in France wants to ban internal email communications between its employees in an attempt to boost productivity.   The CEO of the firm “estimates that only 10% of the 200 messages his employees receive on an average day are useful, and that 18% is spam. Managers spend between 5 and 20 hours a week reading and writing e-mails, he says.  [The firm] has 74,000 employees in 42 countries.”  Imagine the email traffic within an organization of that size.

The story got me thinking: how much of my day is spent reading, deleting, sorting, and replying to email? 

And I would venture to say that a large portion of my inbox is either unsolicited pitches, junk mail, newsletters, deals/coupons or the like.  There have been many a night where I sit down to finally “get some work done” only to start with my inbox and end there 2 hours later, not having touched an actual project.

Email is a beast!

The philosophy employed by the CEO of the French company is one of personal interaction.  He says:

If people want to talk to me, they can come and visit me, call or send me a text message.  Emails cannot replace the spoken word.

What a novel concept.  I’m sure that most of think that email has made our workdays more efficient, by eliminating the need for face-to-face meetings and conference calls.  Could we have it all wrong?  Apparently the company response to this policy has been “positive” and it has reduced its volume of internal emails by 20 percent in six months.

As social media entrepreneurs, the option for a face-to-face meeting isn’t necessarily practical — though there is Skype — but perhaps our form of personal interaction is a quick tweet or a short text or a focused conference call.  I’m willing to give some of these alternate methods of communicating a try…especially if it will ease my overflowing inbox.

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