We Still Wouldn’t Mind If You Forwarded This Post Via Email

Imagine a workplace with no email. Actually, maybe you shouldn’t even try. Electronic mail has become absolutely central to the operations of the modern office. But at least one organization is trying to change that. Atos, a French IT services provider, has declared an “ambition to be a zero email company” within about two years.

The reason is simple, according to Atos: Email can be invasive, time-wasting and maddening. [EXPAND More]

“If people want to talk to me, they can come and visit me, call or send me a text message, Atos Chief Executive Thierry Breton told The Wall Street Journal in a piece published earlier this week. “Emails cannot replace the spoken word.”

At the same time, the company hopes to use different social media tools in service of many of the tasks previously tackled by email.

Peter Drucker was very enthusiastic about the way information technology, including email, “has practically eliminated the physical costs of communications.”

But, as we’ve noted, Drucker railed against wasting time, including having to spend an inordinate number of hours filling out reports and forms (presumably whether of the dead-tree variety or online).

“To spend up to one-quarter of one’s time on employment-related paperwork is indeed a waste of precious, expensive, scarce resources,” Drucker warned in Managing in the Next Society. “It is boring. It demeans and corrupts, and the only thing it can possibly teach is greater skill in cheating.”

What’s more, email—or its precursor, the memo—all too easily becomes a way to hide when face-to-face contact is what’s really required. For instance, Drucker considered that getting answers to the questions “What do I do that helps you?” and “What do I do that hampers you?” was the key to “80 percent of working effectively,” as he noted in Managing the Nonprofit Organization. And those questions were to be delivered in person, as Drucker pointed out in a parenthetical: “But don’t write memos. Go and ask!”

What do you think: Would eliminating email in your workplace be a good thing or not—and why?