One CEO did the unthinkable and forced his workers to communicate for one week the old-fashioned way – face-to-face.
Believe it or not, the move actually boosted productivity and revealed the few situations where email communication is absolutely necessary.
Shayne Hughes, chief executive at Learning for Leadership, documented his workplace experiment and outlined just how other workplaces can carry out their own “No-email” experiment.
Why ban email?
Hughes said it’s not too uncommon for workers to become addicted to email as their main form of communication without even realizing it. There’s also a feeling one gets when emailing someone with a problem or issue – a misplaced feeling of relief. It’s as if that person is simply detailing their problem, clicking send, and all of a sudden that problem is now your problem.
Looking at work more carefully
Though there were some concerns from employees and executives, Hughes went forward with the experiment.
It turned out the results were overall positive. It challenged employees to be more thoughtful about what employees worked on, but also to be more deliberate about what was addressed and with whom. It helped to zero in on what was the most important priority.
When is email useful?
Hughes also found four specific situations where email should be used:
- Giving simple information. Agendas for meetings or directions to a location.
- Assigning clear tasks. “Can you schedule this person?” “Can you send me that document?” The idea is to reduce the amount of follow-up questions.
- Sending an attachment. After a conversation about a project or task, email shouldn’t be used to further that conversation, but to supply the materials if need be.
- Documenting a critical meeting. Think performance reviews.