How one company instituted an email-free day

Can you imagine a workday without email?

Employees at LaSalle Network can. Three years ago the Chicago-based staffing, recruiting and culture firm tried an experiment—the no-email workday.

How one company instituted an email-free day

According to a July 5 Fast Company article written by Tom Gimbel, founder and chief executive officer of LaSalle, the experiment was so successful the company has opted to do it once a quarter. Employees set out-of-office replies, turn off notifications and go cold turkey for the day.

The out-of-office messages let clients know what they are doing. Here’s an example: “It’s no-email day at LaSalle Network! Today we’re embracing live communication and collaboration. I’m in the office, just not in my inbox … call me! I want to hear from you!”

In addition to reducing the angst that can come from misinterpreting the tone of an email, the no-email day has other positive benefits:

  • It’s faster. Picking up the phone and speaking with a client gets things resolved more quickly than sending an email and waiting for a response, Gimbel writes. And instead of instant messaging a co-worker, employees get up and walk to their desks or call them.
  • It builds relationships. Live communication enables you to see another person’s reaction and hear the inflection in their voice. “Relationships are built from real conversations, not endless chains of back-and-forth emails,” he says.
  • It encourages creativity. Talking through an issue enables people to come up with solutions and new ideas.
  • It brings quicker resolutions. “It’s easy to hide in your inbox, especially when there’s a client issue,” Gimbel says. “The best results can come through picking up the phone and talking through something tricky with a client or vendor. It shows you care.”
  • It makes employees more energized and productive. The energy in the office on no-email days is electric, he says. People are up, talking to co-workers or dashing to answer the phone. Productivity picks up because everything seems to be done faster and more efficiently.
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