Atos, one of the largest information technology companies in the world decided to abolish e-mails, because it says 90% of them are a waste of time.
Atos employs almost 80,000 people in 42 countries.
The company believes that too many of its employees waste hours dealing with irrelevant e-mails, so wants them phased out within 18 months.
Instead, Atos wants people to spend more time talking to each other – either on the phone or in person – and to use tightly controlled “real time” messaging interfaces.
Atos CEO, Thierry Breton, who is a former French finance minister, said the “zero e-mail” policy could be in place within 18 months.
“It is not right that some of our fellow employees spend hours in the evening dealing with their e-mails,” said the 56-year-old CEO.
Claiming that only 20 out of every 200 emails received by his staff every day turn out to be important, Thierry Breton said: “The e-mail is no longer the appropriate tool. It is time to think differently.
“The deluge of information will be one of the most important problems a company will have to face.”
Thierry Breton said the main problem was people switching to a “useless” email while they were carrying out a far more important task.
Allowing e-mails to stack up also means that staff has huge e-mail workloads to pile through when they get home.
Thierry Breton pointed to a recent study by the business watchdog ORSE, which reads: “Reading useless messages is terrible for concentration, as it takes 64 seconds to get back on the ball after doing so. Poorly controlled, the e-mail can become a devastating tool.”
Atos CEO suggested that a real time messaging interface as available on sites like Facebook would be far preferable to email, with staff also encouraged to talk to each other in person.
“Companies must prepare for the new wave of usage and behaviour,” Thierry Breton said, adding that he always preferred proper conversations.
“If people want to talk to me, they can come and visit me, call or send me a text message,” he said.
“Emails cannot replace the spoken word.”