Can You Go a Day Without Email? - InformationWeek

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10/11/2007
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Can You Go a Day Without Email?

What would your workday be like without email? Can you do it? Can you handle having to talk to your coworkers face to face or pick up the phone to talk to your boss? Doesn't it sound sosoprimitive?

What would your workday be like without email? Can you do it? Can you handle having to talk to your coworkers face to face or pick up the phone to talk to your boss? Doesn't it sound sosoprimitive?In an article, The Wall Street Journal discusses a trend among companies to ban email on Fridays or weekends. The ban usually doesn't affect communication with clients or customers but is targeted more at internal email.

The article lays out the goal of these bans: "The limits aim to encourage more face-to-face and phone contact with customers and co-workers, raise productivity or just give employees a reprieve from the ever-rising email tide."

A reprieve is understandable to anyone working in small to midsize companies. The article cites a 2007 study of 177 people by the University of Glasgow and Paisley University in Scotland that one-third of users feel stressed by heavy email volume. Not surprising considering that the study showed that many users check email as often as 30 to 40 times an hour.

The loss of productivity tied up in that time spent checking email is staggering to consider. Especially when many emails are part of long chains that too many people are cc'ed on and that they feel obligated to comment on, even when they are not directly involved in the issue or project.

We've all gotten very clever and we shoot off emails at the drop of a hat when we can just pick up the phone or get up, walk down the hall, and clarify a point with a co-worker. We don't have to bother the whole team, we don't have to send emails back and forth, and frequently the tone of an email is misinterpreted and can lead to misunderstandings. (Registration required.)

In the WSJ article, Kathy Volpi, director of product management and marketing for U.S. Cellular, is initially furious when her company imposes a Friday email ban. But the article describes how she is now a supporter of the ban.

"Gradually, she realized that reading and responding to all the email she was sending was probably a burden to co-workers. Now, she makes a point of visiting co-workers on Fridays. Business, she says, isn't only about emailing "cold reports" and being efficient, she says. "It's about human beings and interaction."

Indeed it is.

Would you consider a Friday email ban at your work? Let us know.

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