Free Email Day Makes Me Sad

sad_emoticon“Free email day” makes me sad.  

The WSJ posts about companies who designate “Free Email Days” for their organization – entire days where employees are forbidden from using email to get their work done:

“While the bans typically allow emailing clients and customers or responding to urgent matters, the normal flow of routine internal email is halted. Violators are hit with token fines, or just called out by the boss.

The limits aim to encourage more face-to-face and phone contact with customers and co-workers, raise productivity or just give employees a reprieve from the ever-rising email tide.”

If you’re a reader of this blog then you likely already understand the issues that too much email presents.  From a USA Today article on the same subject, Fridays go from casual to e-mail-free:

“E-mail overload is caused by the sheer volume of messages zipping around the globe. Each day, about 39.7 billion person-to-person e-mails, 17.1 billion automated alerts, and 40.5 billion pieces of spam (unsolicited commercial e-mail) are sent worldwide, researcher IDC says. White-collar workers often receive 140 messages a day, executive coach Marsha Egan says.”

But honestly, free email day sounds a bit like the ostrich putting his head in the sand.  It’s like admitting that bad email management is sapping your employee’s productivity, but rather than addressing the issue you’re OK with them being completely unproductive 4 days out of the week.  Hey, at least your organization gets some work done on Fridays!

I have said it time and again, if you aren’t efficiently managing your email, you aren’t being fair to your customers, your co-workers, or yourself.  These companies need to be putting their efforts into giving their employees the tools they need to effectively manage the flow of information.  And I’m not ranting because I want everyone to buy site licenses to our product (but you should!); teach your employees how to identify what’s important in email, how to efficiently manage those messages and how to succeed at their jobs rather than putting arbitrary restraints on their workflow because they can’t focus on the task at hand.  The result will be happier co-workers, satisfied customers and a more productive, creative work environment.

happy_emoticonAnd I won’t be sad anymore.