French IT company aspires to be email-free within a year

Dec 09, 2011 By Deborah Netburn

How many work emails do you get a day? 80? 200? 500? More than 1,000?

If you are one of the many people who feel overwhelmed by the daily deluge of unnecessary emails in your inbox, consider applying for a job at Atos. The French is hoping to become a zero-email company by 2013.

"We are producing data on a massive scale that is fast polluting our working environments and also encroaching on our personal lives," Thierry Breton, Atos' chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. "At Atos Origin we are taking action now to reverse this trend, just as organizations took measures to reduce after the ."

pollution? That's one way to look at it.

While the idea of an email-free existence makes the prospect of coming back from a vacation more palatable, it's hard to imagine how a company of Atos' size - 74,000 employees spread out over 42 offices worldwide - can function without email.

In an interview with ABC News, a spokeswoman for Atos said the company was still evaluating solutions, but that the result will probably be a mix of collaborative social like the Atos Wiki, which enables employees to communicate by contributing or modifying online content, and the company's online system, which also enables and file sharing.

She added that the company has already reduced internal email 20 percent since it started working toward the zero-email goal six months ago.

Clifford Nass, director of the Communication Between Humans and Interactive Media Lab at Stanford University and author of the book "The Man Who Lied to His Laptop," isn't convinced that Atos has found a good solution to email overload.

"There is no question that the amount of information that is being pressed upon people is more than they can handle," he said. But "the increase of chat is almost certainly a bad thing. There is a lot of evidence that it is more of a hindrance than a help."

Chat, he said, is more distracting than email - if someone wants to chat, they want to chat now - and generally less valuable than email because people tend to type the first thought that comes to mind.

As for the idea of a central document that everyone keeps updating, he said that works only if everyone remembers to check it frequently.

"The real core of this is how often people know what they need to know," he said. "The more people know what they need to know, the more you can have systems with centralized documents and then people know where they can go to find out what they need to know. But when you don't know you need to know something on the document, how will you know to check?"

The issue, he said, is finding the balance between making sure people get information they need to know and not bogging them down with information they don't need to know.

Explore further: Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Atos shares jump on Siemens deal for IT giant

Dec 15, 2010

Shares in French computer services consultancy Atos Origin leapt Wednesday in response to a deal with German giant Siemens targeted at creating the "European leader" in the sector.

SIMONE's email feel-good factor

Mar 06, 2009

A computer model called SIMONE, for Simulator for Interruptions and Message Overload in Network Environments described in the latest issue of the International Journal of Simulation and Process Modelling, could help solve ...

No holiday e-mail break for Americans: survey

Nov 23, 2010

Americans will take a break from the office over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays but most won't stop checking their work emails, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

Yahoo ready to deliver on promise to upgrade email

May 24, 2011

(AP) -- Yahoo Inc. is giving its popular email service a long-promised facelift in an attempt to make it more appealing to people who are increasingly using Facebook, Twitter, Google and other online alternatives to communicate.

Recommended for you

Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

20 hours ago

The detective work blaming North Korea for the Sony hacker break-in appears so far to be largely circumstantial, The Associated Press has learned. The dramatic conclusion of a Korean role is based on subtle ...

UN General Assembly OKs digital privacy resolution

23 hours ago

The U.N. General Assembly has approved a resolution demanding better digital privacy protections for people around the world, another response to Edward Snowden's revelations about U.S. government spying.

Online privacy to remain thorny issue: survey

Dec 18, 2014

Online privacy will remain a thorny issue over the next decade, without a widely accepted system that balances user rights and personal data collection, a survey of experts showed Thursday.

Spain: Google News vanishes amid 'Google Tax' spat

Dec 16, 2014

Google on Tuesday followed through with a pledge to shut down Google News in Spain in reaction to a Spanish law requiring news publishers to receive payment for content even if they are willing to give it away.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dschlink
not rated yet Dec 09, 2011
Never got more than a few dozen emails at work, but then we had some very strong filters. If it wasn't internal or from a vender, it didn't get through. I've got five personal accounts and maybe a dozen messages get through every day.
Temple
not rated yet Dec 10, 2011
a spokeswoman for Atos said the company was still evaluating solutions, but that the result will probably be a mix of collaborative social media tools like the Atos Wiki, which enables employees to communicate by contributing or modifying online content, and the company's online chat system, which also enables video conferencing and file sharing.


So, instead of emails, you'll get interruptive chats, and some sort of notification when the wiki is updated?

Next they will get rid of the phones, but maintain a network of tin-can string lines, voice tubes, singing telegrams, and voice mails.

Still, a brilliant ploy by the IT company.

IT Services Company: "We're going to get rid of email!"

Business: "We get too many emails, let's hire these guys!"

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.