Imagine life without e mail. Well, let’s not go overboard. Just imagine life without ONE DAY of e mail. I know an organization that has gone to an “email free Wednesday.” Employees are not allowed to send internal e mails on Wednesdays. Needless to say, they are free to respond to customers if they receive e mails or need to email customers. The intent was to allow people to actually have time to concentrate on “work” and to force face-to-face interaction within the organization. As an employee retention expert, I am a major advocate of getting face-to-face to with your people as a way to develop rapport and trust. We send way too many lengthy e mails that are better addressed in face-to-face discussions with people. Amazingly…it worked!
At first the reaction was like taking a heroin addict off of the drug cold turkey. People struggled figuring out how to conduct business without just shooting off an e mail to solve the problem. So what did the people do? In many cases they actually sat in their office, had more productive time and were able to get projects done that they normally did not have the time to do because they would constantly be responding to e mails.
The other thing that happened was that people DID get face-to-face with their colleagues and talked to each other. At first it was weird but then they found that in most cases they were able to truly problem solve and enjoyed the interaction. Wow, what a novel concept; talking to the people you work with. From an employee retention standpoint, you might hear of concerns that could lead to someone leaving when you talk to them.
As a result of what took place, they have decided to continue the practice. People are looking forward to days when they are free of the pinging of their computer every 3 minutes with an e mail notification so they can get “work” done instead of staying late to do work they couldn’t get done during the day. It has worked so well, they are now contemplating trying “meeting free days” as a mechanism to further drive productivity and allow for time to truly conduct “work.” Now that would really be a novel concept!