February 14, 2012
Trend: Organizations Limiting Email
We’re carefully following a trend—moving away from the use of email communication. In an effort to increase productivity and monitor work/life balance—major corporations including Volkswagen, IBM, and Atos have taken steps from reducing emails after work to completely removing email internally. On a larger scale, Brazil’s president has approved legislation on email use after hours.
Here’s a breakdown of what’s happening:
Atos moving toward a no-email policy
The CEO of French technology giant Atos, Thierry Breton, plans to phase out internal emails by 2014. The move is a result of internal research that revealed employees spend too much time on internal email (employees averaged 100 internal emails a day; reading and replying to emails took 20 hours a week), and not enough time on management.
Breton’s goal is to replace email with internal social media tools such as instant messaging services, Facebook and Twitter. Eliminating email is part of a larger global initiative, “Wellbeing at Work,” which is designed to enhance working conditions.
Volkswagen turns off email to reduce burnout
Volkswagen (VW) has decided to stop sending emails to employees’ BlackBerry when they’re off-shift, citing its desire to prevent burnout. Europe’s largest automaker will stop routing emails 30 minutes after the end of shifts until 30 minutes before the next day’s shift begins.
This BlackBerry Blackout affects employees in Germany who are part of collective bargaining and was started after complaints from VW employees and the union that work and home lives are becoming blurred. Employees can still make and receive calls in off-hours, and the Blackout doesn’t apply to senior management. So far the response has been positive a VW spokesperson told the German newspaper, Wolfsburger Allgemeine Zeitung.
Brazil legislates for compensation
Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, approved legislation in December stating that workers who answer work emails after hours can qualify for overtime. The law equates email to orders given directly to the employee.
Neither courts nor employers know exactly what to expect with the implementation of this law, and are still working to determine what will qualify for overtime compensation. Joao Oreste Dalazen, head of the Brazil labor court, says that working remotely is like clocking in.
The Supreme Courts in Brazil will review the issue this month, and decide whether employees are considered to be working from home when receiving emails and phone calls from employers.
Is your company bogged down by email? How prepared is your company to address the greater communication needs?
- David Grossman
Tag(s): Internal Communication
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