Atomic 212, an advertising agency with offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland, has banned internal emails in order to foster more creativity.
Led by CEO Jason Dooris, an evangelist for teleworking robots, the company aims to encourage more face-to-face interaction.
Dooris wants to turn back the clock to when there was no email, and employees had discussions while photocopying, according to the Financial Review.
Banning emails will also stop employees deflecting responsibility and feeling guilt for not replying to emails outside of work hours, Dooris hopes.
The company has switched over to Wunderlist, a group reminder and task-management app, for their electronic communication.
“The main idea for this whole email thing was that people felt that when you email another person and asked them to do something, it might fall through the cracks,” Irina Andreev, a search and social executive at Atomic 212, told Business Insider.
“So with this you can see when a task has been assigned to you, other people can see when it’s been assigned to you.”
With email gone and the task-related portion of email taken care of, the rest of team interactions are now out in the open, as Dooris wanted. Andreev notes that there are more people walking around and talking, more “buzz”.
“It’s a new process, it’s going to require a lot of tinkering to get it perfect, but I am noticing [in] the office there is a bit more buzz going on, there are a lot more people walking around and talking which is kind of nice to see,” she says.
Atomic intern Benny Lee has seen a similar experience. He says that the people who work around him – in his “pod” – used to just send emails because it was easier.
“The people in my pod are actually connecting and talking to each other, instead of the person sitting behind me sending me an email ’cause its easier,” Lee says.
“Its nice to be able to actually talk to people who have more experience.”
Many larger companies have embraced these alternate forms of communication. Automattic, the company behind blogging software WordPress, famously has a team distributed across the globe and has eschewed email since at least 2009.
“Around 2009, about four years after the company started, we found ourselves using email a lot and our blog not that much,” Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg told Business Insider, “so we decided to turn the concept of a blog on its head and make it easy to post and have a conversation without ever leaving its home page; that became P2.”
P2 is a type of real-time blogging platform created for office communication. They use it in addition to chat rooms and Google Hangouts. The idea is to have communication in real-time, be more transparent and to have chat histories so anyone who has missed the conversation can just go back and catch up.
Other tech companies have also created their own chat tools. GitHub, a website for developers, created an internal messenger called “team”, which is also emphasised for the chat history it creates.
“You should be logging everything that’s said through your company chat so that people working remotely don’t miss out on what was happening in the office,” Zach Holman, one of the company’s former engineers, explained in a blog post.
“We drop into our transcripts every day to gain more context about previous decisions. The discussion is sometimes more important than the decision.”
Treehouse, an online education company for programming, created a version of reddit called Convoy for internal communication. They still use email for “actionable items”, and developers use real-time chat, but the rest of the company uses the forum-like platform for their discussions.
“Now that we’ve been using Convoy for a couple weeks, I definitely feel a palpable difference in the company culture,” Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson wrote on his blog. “We’re more connected and everyone is having a chance to weigh in on discussions.”
“Now email is less noisy and a lot of the discussions are happening in Convoy. Email is preserved for actionable items, which is great.”
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