BAN Internal Email

Like most people i receive hundreds of emails and most (if i’m honest) are not really for me, but i get copied in because others think i am interested.

Well i believe the answer is quite simple but radical in local government terms.


Yes, ban internal email altogether for staff. Why do we do it and what purpose does it actually serve. Who really understand when to CC, or even BCC someone in and why would you actually Blind copy someone in (i admit i have done this before but wondered why i actually did it afterwards).

I would prefer to receive email only from customers or external organisations, that way i would know for sure that it was going to be at least business related (spam aside for a minute). I’d stop getting emails about lunch and copied into email conversations half way through and be expected to read the rest which scrolls for hours on end.

Well i’d like to propose that we seek to explore replacing internal email with more modern tool, which reflect the way we interact with each other and the increasing demands on knowing things “now” instead of when someone reads their email and decides to reply.

The answer (or suggestion anyway):

Internal Social Network – This would capture the conversations (formal and informal) which occur, but would be tagged by users and commented on by others who also add tags. It puts the individual in control of what content and conversations they participate in. Much more effective then the classic old school “CC”.

Instant Messenger – This would compliment the social network (depending on platform of course) with instant communication potential and presence awareness. That way i would know whether someone i need to speak to was actually available at that moment in time. This would make decisions and networking more productive coupled with a social network. I’d also use this tool to find out whether a colleague wanted to get a coffee or lunch. Much, much better than email.

Now you might ask, what am i actually doing about this. Well we are piloting an internal social networking platform, which is great and provides increased opportunity to engage wider people because i no longer have to think about “who might be interested”. The system and others users enable that to happen. The system flags to me stuff i have stated i want to be kept informed about (alerts etc) and i can see all “public” conversations and am able to contribute or comment on all of them.

I’d be very interested if anyone has actually made this move and i’d be keen to know how the staff perceived the change and more so, how internal communications has improved.

Anyway, i’ll keep on pressing and moving forward.


7 thoughts on “BAN Internal Email

  1. As far as I’m concerned (personal opinion), email is old hat. I’d love to move from a push system to a pull system of communication.

    Internal mail can literally become SPAM. Hundreds of mailboxes at the mercy of everyone?

    As you say, there is confusion or questionable reasons for using Cc or Bcc.

    Writing style is often cumbersome or lazy (or both).

    Generally, I find that Outlook (even though it is Microsoft) is massively underutilised. On a simple level, it can manage tasks, appointments and stickies. However, training on these basic concepts is often overlooked. The results?

    Emails get sent to arrange meetings – people have to manually add appointments to there own diaries and the organiser loses control of tracking etc.

    Emails get sent to assign tasks – again, far less functional than assigning a task.

    Emails also come with other limitations, such as mailbox size and the sense that once a message is in your inbox, you might have to save it for another day?

    What should you do?

    Generally, I would say that people spend a lot of time creating inadequate personal filing systems for emails they just can’t bring themselves to delete (and then searching for them at a later date).

    I’m with you on this one and will be following your updates on your pilot.

    Oh, as an alternative for organisations who can’t quickly implement internal social networking, how about setting some basic ground rules or commitments?

    Anyone heard of ?

  2. Hi Carl,

    We have been using Internal Instant Messaging (Jabber + Pidgin) for sometime within our team now at Landmark. It is a mixed bag of good and bad. I really see it as another communications tool which complements email rather than replacing it.

    Good Points –
    You can see when people are online.
    You can communicate rapidly and NOW.

    Bad Points –
    It can be quite an interruption, it is harder to ignore than email when you just want to get some work done.
    Does not provide any decent sort of audit trail or searchable history.
    Not so good for file attachments etc.

  3. I agree with paul, above, in that having ‘conversations’ by email is a sorry state of affairs compared to having a face-to-face conversation. Then, document it by email to all parties by all means.

    With regard to inbox overload, I’ve set up a rule in my email client so that anything that arrives in my inbox that does not have me explicitly listed in the ‘to’ field gets moved into a ‘CC box’. I read my CC box less often and with less emergency (as I’m obviously not the target for the email’s content).

  4. I agree that email isn’t working – it’s a massively expensive productivity drain and has got gradually worse over the years. Its time will come, surely, but I’m not sure we’re anywhere near that particular tipping point yet.

    Really enjoyed this post though, provocative and a pretty sound idea!

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