Chief Executive Bans Internal Emails for One Week, Productivity Surges!

Shayne Hughes, chief executive of Learning as Leadership did the unthinkable. He announced to his staff that all internal email was forbidden for an entire week!

Here’s why: Realizing internal emails equate to 50 to 75 percent of all traffic, reviewing, responding and managing, they consume large chunks of time for employees.

Plus, in a Forbes post Hughes argues it’s not even the best medium for communication.

He wrote, “Buried beneath our collective email dysfunction are the important conversations our organizations and relationships need to move forward. Email is the worst forum for tackling these. Time and again I see leaders being harsher by email than they ever would be in a direct conversation. Email has become a false way of addressing conflict, and the costs in terms of time and trust are dramatic.”

Choosing to ban email for a week also stemmed from wanting to prevent another end of the day feeling stressed by reactive activity “that accomplished little of importance.”

Although his team initially had reservations, Hughes quickly noticed the elimination of “background noise” and as a result, he began to “carve out power hours” to tackle challenges. Their mindset changed from an urgent must respond now to messages into focusing on productive energy.

He recalled:

“When we stopped sending one another email, we stopped winding one another up. The decrease in stress from one day to the next was palpable. So was our increase in productivity.

This was when I grasped the most damaging cost of thoughtless email: It prevents us from doing our best work.

Counterintuitively, this is also email’s most seductive ego-benefit: It protects us from taking the risk of focusing our best effort on our most challenging endeavors.”

Plus, he pointed out that eliminating internal emails challenged his team to be more thoughtful about what they worked on in addition to being “more deliberate about what we addressed and with whom.”

Publish date: October 29, 2012 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT