Europe’s largest IT company bans email

atos bans emailAtos is an international IT company that employs roughly 75,000 people and rakes in billions of dollars a year. It’s also the official IT integrator for the Olympic games. To put it simply, Atos is a rather large company. Which is why it comes as a surprise that the corporation is banning email.

According to The Telegraph, CEO Thierry Breton has enforced a “zero email” policy that will go into effect within the next 18-months. “It is not normal that some of our fellow employees spend hours in the evening dealing with their emails,” he says. “The email is no longer the appropriate [communication] tool.”

Bretton says instant messaging services and a social-communication tool will replace the apparently archaic email message. The CEO also says that young hires will take more easily to this Facebook-like way of inter-office communication.

“Companies must prepare for the new wave of usage and behavior,” Bretton explains. “If people want to talk to me, they can come and visit me, call or send me a text message. Emails cannot replace the spoken word.” The CEO says he has not sent a work email in three years.

So is Bretton just ahead of the curve or is his anti-email inspiration bound for failure? There’ plenty of “email is dead” fodder to go around, but cut through all that noise and studies show most of us still rely on it. A Pew study this past summer found that email remains one of the most popular online activities: “Among online adults, 92-percent use email, with 61-percent using it on an average day.” And a variety of surveys have revealed that the smartphone revolution has driven users to accessing their email even more, via mobile apps.

But to Bretton’s credit, the deluge of spam we’re subjected to on a daily basis has made the work email client difficult to wade through. And Atos has tools like the Atos Wiki and an office chat program that allow for project collaboration and communication. Still, cutting out email seems like something of a drastic step, and that there might be some stepping stones Atos is skipping in the evolution of email.

There are a variety of services trying to make email more efficient and meaningful, and they are probably part of the process of getting from where we are now to where Atos is already trying to be.

Of course, if you’ve hit your limit with email, in or out of the office, there are a few ways to try and improve the experience:

  • Three.sentenc.es: Three.sentenc.es is more of a personal mantra than anything else (there are also “two,” “four,” and “five” versions of this policy) that encourages users to keep things to the point.
  • AwayFind: AwayFind makes email truly mobile. Instead of pulling up an app to obsessively check out your inbox, this app acts like your personal assistant and notifies you of urgent messages only.
  • Shortmail: Sweet and to the point, Shortmail has a Twitter-like interface and adopts the idea of limited characters (500 only). No attachments, no spam, just quick, succinct, meaningful communication. 
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