Phones 4u bans internal e-mail

Mobile phone retailer Phones 4u has become the first UK company to ban the use of internal e-mail across the entire business,...

Mobile phone retailer Phones 4u has become the first UK company to ban the use of internal e-mail across the entire business.

It claims the move will save each employee three hours a day, adding up to £1m per month.

With 13,000 internal e-mails passing through its system every week, individual e-mail accounts were taking up too much of the IT department’s time, the company said.

The Phone 4u head office and its stores now communicate by telephone and the company intranet, which is used for ordering equipment and services.

The move, which follows similar smaller-scale e-mail bans from Nestle Rowntree and Liverpool City Council, is already showing positive results, said Jenna Jensen, marketing manager at Phones 4u.

“It has really helped increase our operational efficiency - stores are no longer distracted by e-mails,” she said. “It also ensures people take responsibility for their actions. These days, e-mail tends to be used less for genuine communication and more as a tool for back-covering and buck-passing.”

Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at the Manchester School of Management, said other companies should consider banning internal e-mail.

“[Phones 4u] certainly has something there. I would always ban e-mail within sites, to improve communication,” Cooper said. “Between sites it is more unusual, but there is then the opportunity to build relationships over the phone.”

The problem with e-mail, Cooper said, is that employees become electronically overloaded; do not prioritise e-mails, and have less opportunity for team building.

Banning internal e-mail allows IT staff to concentrate on more productive work, Cooper said. “It will have come as a relief to people in the IT department. “They are inundated with a lot of unnecessary information – every trivial message goes through them.”

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