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Susie Finch

Susie Finch


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The death of email?


I'm sure that you will have seen this article in the news, which really caught my eye - French company Atos says it will be 'banning' email within the next 18 months. This artcle about it on the Telegraph website was interesting, as it also states that only 11% of 11 to 19 year olds are using email anyway - so that's almost 90% that prefer social media instead. It raises lots of questions about how we communicate with one another, not just at work, and has ramifications for L&D as well - and particularly learning technologies. I'd value hearing other people's thoughts about this!

6 Responses

  1. Death of email

    Interesting article Susie. I think a company banning email is an odd move considering, like you said, that uptake with successive generations is decreasing anyway. We’re communicating more though (aren’t we?), so maybe companies banning it will accelerate its demise. It’s a fairly clunky system compared with the various social media platforms that are out there and in widespread use.


  2. The right tool for the job

    Personally I think it’s the wrong approach, they clearly have a communication/time management issue, banning email won’t fix that it merely moves it elsewhere.

    I believe that this over reliance on the inbox is a result of our shift from more traditional forms of work (labour intensive) to the office/desk. So many of us work in offices today where the environment tells us nothing about what we do. Whether you work in training, software design, claims handling, banking or millions of other jobs, every environment is the same; a desk, a chair, a computer and telephone. Virtually every task takes place using the later two items.

    Now look at other, more physical, jobs such as working in a restaurant, a factory, a train station, an airport, in an airplane, a hospital, and the list goes on. In these roles the environment plays a huge part in guiding the workers with what needs to be done. Workers don’t have to, and it would be impossible to do so, remember every little thing they need to know to do their jobs. Instead they have a number of visual, and other, aids that help them reconsruct this information everyday. Their workplaces are generally laid out in such away that facilitates their understanding of what they need to do every day when they turn up for work.

    I believe, over the last 2 decades, inboxes have filled that vacuum as the always on application on your desktop. We’ve become over reliant on the next message to arrive in our inbox. We drop everything to read it then often react to it or try to get back to where we were. We feel comfortable that it is some how making us busy as we always have ‘something’ to do.

    And it’s whether this ‘something’ is really contributing to your worklife and the organization’s goals that’s the key. This clearly is not a universal issue, many people, including most of my colleagues, are perfectly capable of selecting the right method of communication for the right job. Sometimes a telephone call, maybe an Instant Message, perhaps a post on a mico-blog tool or even …an email! ūüôā

  3. Inside or Out

    I can see the reasoning behind limiting e mail, especially when the people you e mail are in the same building. Speaking in person or on the phone is always better than e mail I think.

    There was a documentary about Innocent Smoothy Co’ recently hwre I think they have a no e mail policy and for them it works…(they also have astro turf on the floor instead of carpets…strange)

    However, what about clients who want to e mail you? What about colleagues who work in different time zones? How do you send files which is what the majority of my e mails actually do?


  4. Many thanks for contributing

    Thanks so much for your thoughts everyone.

    I agree that it seems an incredibly bold move to enforce an outright ban on email within an organsation – especially as i think that most people have a prefered means of communicating, which may actually be email, however much we might complain about junk mail and how full our inbox is!

  5. A place for everything and everything in its place

    I’d like to answer this from a personal perspective…

    I like to text, I’m on facebook (for social purposes) and twitter (with my extended network), and as a result I’ve pretty much stopped emailing people socially. I message them, or I speak to them.

    However, I couldn’t possibly run my business without email! I design training materials for a living and email is still the best way to send documents between people. I don’t want them floating around in a public or semi-public arena, and my client will need to be sure that confidentiality is respected. With email I can be sure that they get the right person, and the right person only.

    Even when new technologies come along that fill the same mneed, I can’t see email going away, and as for banning it?? We didn’t ban letter writing when email arrived did we?

    Sheridan Webb

    Keystone Development – Bespoke Training Design

  6. Are all Generation Y Learners the Same?

    I’ve just posted the BBC take on this story onto our Yammer network.

    We’ve been using Yammer to run facilitated case study discussions for a few weeks now, for an audience of trainee lawyers.  It’s gone very well, once the initial inertia was built up.

    But….what has interested me, is that uptake of Yammer is not consistent across our Generation Y learner base.

    Looking deeper into this, I can see that they use social media externally when it’s in their interest – supporting their agenda – but when it comes to work-based matters, they still shy away from social media and accept "older" communciation techologies – aka e-mail.

    I sense there’s a feeling that corporate social media isn’t as private as the networks they use outside, where they can set the privacy controls and be confident that their comments will only appear where they want.

    A lot of us older ones probably feel the same, though I am more inclined to use social media to comment on business-related matters and much less likely to start sharing my personal life over the net.  Facebook, for example, is mostly my high school alumni address book.

    All good stuff this.  And something we need to keep an eye on, as I’m fearful we’ll all go headlong down the social media route, only to see postings in a year or so’s time claiming that social media as the new learning frontier is a myth!  And we love our myth-busting stories!


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Susie Finch


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