Friday, May 9, 2008

Stop e-mailing, increase employee productivity

How often do you check your e-mail? Twice a day? Every hour? Every 5 minutes?

Like most in the corporate world, it’s probably about every few minutes. If you’re a Blackberry owner, make that seconds.

Some business owners are fighting back against the e-mail overload and taking the steps to loosen it’s control over employees’ lives.

Eve Tahmincioglu at YourBiz, recently wrote about an e-mail response she recently received from a tea lounge owner. It basically said that in order to focus on business, he will only be responding to e-mail twice a week, for urgent issues you could give him a call.


Eve called the owner to ask about the “e-mail bashing.” His response - “When you’re e-mailing back and forth it’s easy to feel like your doing a lot but at the end of the day it doesn’t help you accomplish your goals.”

Double wow.

In many businesses and careers, this is impossible. Things are happening all day everyday that we need to be aware of and part of. But, maybe we can all learn a lesson from these anti-e-mail warriors. Eve compares it to an alcoholic who suddenly wonders if they’ve been drinking too much.

Though e-mail helps us all get a lot done during the day, there is a point where it starts to take away from the big picture and lowers employee productivity.

If you can’t cut back on e-mail as much as Mr. Tea Lounge, maybe try to set aside some time in the day where e-mails are off limits. Start your day by planning out what you need to get accomplished, and check your e-mail later.

Or, have a full day each week where e-mails are illegal. An article in the USAToday explains how some companies are turning casual Fridays into e-mail-free Fridays.

Less dependence on e-mail encourages more face-to-face communication. Here’s an old-fashioned idea - instead of sending an e-mail to the person two cubes down the hall, roll away from your computer, stand up, take a short walk and have a conversation.

The tea lounge owner had another fancy trick up his sleeve. At staff meetings, employees are not allowed to bring laptops and must take notes on a 1956 typewriter. Just one typewriter for the whole room.

Why the typewriter? “Instead of having a big volume of meeting notes because everyone was typing away on their laptops, they now share that one typewriter and end up with four or five key points.”


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