Company declares war on staff e-mail
Fri Sep 19,11:43 AM ET
By Bernhard Warner, European Internet Correspondent
LONDON (Reuters) - The owner of one of Britain's biggest mobile phone chains has declared war on e-mail, banning staff from sending electronic missives to co-workers in a move he says will save the company millions of pounds each year.
"We have e-mail paralysis," John Caudwell, the owner of the high street retailer Phones4U, told Reuters on Friday. "If you have a cancer you have to cut it out. That's what I've done."
Caudwell, who described himself as a slow typer who has yet to send an e-mail on his own, introduced the measure this week because staff were spending too much time with internal e-mails rather than dealing with customers.
He calculated three hours per day off e-mail multiplied by the number of staff affected by the ban (600-700) multiplied by the average employee wage will translate to monthly savings of 1 million pounds.
"The policy came from me. The staff was initially slightly shocked that I should make such a revolutionary move," he said.
Customers can still e-mail product questions to staff, but for managers and staff at the 341 branches the privilege is history.
Bulging e-mail in-boxes is a daily headache for corporate drones. But while e-mail fatigue is often cited as a modern-day workplace distraction, few could conceive of life without it.
TPG, a Dutch mail express and logistics company with over 150,000 staff in 62 countries, has a typical love-hate relationship with e-mail.
"It would be a serious setback for the company if we could no longer use email, and we are not considering it," said Tanno Massar, director of media relations at TPG.
"E-mail has its own qualities, it's very fast and you can inform many people at the same time. That is something you cannot match with face to face meetings," Tanno added.
There is one notable exception to Caudwell's ban. The company's lone communications manager has the task of compiling reports from 40 company managers and writing a daily e-mail distributed to the company's 2,500 employees.