Where Atos boldly goes….

Thursday, 8 December 2011, 13:39 | Category : General
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There has been a bit of a hulabaloo recently about comments by Thierry Breton, the CEO of Atos on why he banned email at his 8.6 billion EURO IT services company. Comments across the world’s media and twitter have ranged from “stupid” to “bold”. The BBC this week did a great follow up interview with full explanation behind the decision. It’s definitely worth a read and can be found here: http://bbc.in/tELYlT.

Before we run screaming for the hills from this madman, it should be pointed out that he is only referring to internal email. You know, the group emails about Christmas parties, what’s on in the canteen, reminders about expenses and if you have worked at one of the agencies I’ve worked at – some rather dodgy borderline jokes. He still clearly sees a role for external email, but is just trying to shake up internal communications making the company more relevant to a much younger workforce and much more efficient. As a man who lectured at Harvard and ran France’s flagship company France Telecom, I think it’s fair to say that he knows his stuff. The decision wasn’t snapshot either – it’s well thought through and made on the basis of findings of an internal task force. The team at Atos realised that on average their 80,000 strong workforce were receiving over 100 emails a day. More staggering was the fact that most polled only found 15% useful and reckoned that they were spending 15 to 20 hours a week responding and checking internal email. Now you don’t need to have lectured at Harvard to realise that those stats do not make for a happy and productive workforce. The other thing I found really interesting – and frightening – was that most new joiners under 30 (of which Atos employs 10,000 a year) weren’t used to Microsoft Outlook! This seems like the first real indicator that twitter, Facebook and IM has really now taken over from email in the younger generation.

This all got me thinking. As you know PRN is a virtual organisation and we like to think we are pretty innovative. We are always trying to think about how we could do things better and differently and researching new ways to work smarter. So as we do have someone who is under 30 on our management team, we are going to get down with the kids and ban internal email for a week. We already have various other ways to communicate – whether it’s skype, twitter or good old fashioned iPhone 4S, so it shouldn’t be too hard but, let’s see how we survive. We will report back to you in 7 days time. I might even come over all EMO too (for those of you over 30, I think that is the new Goth/Grunge look). Promise not to post pictures.


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