Atos says the age of the e-mail will soon be over

IT REVOLUTIONISED Britain's workplaces when it was widely adopted by business in the late nineties, but now one company plans to banish e-mail.

Atos Origin, the global IT firm, has set out to become a "zero e-mail" company within three years.

Thierry Breton, the firm's chairman and chief executive, says he has had enough of the streams of e-mails which daily "pollute" the workplace. He has likened his campaign to the efforts made to "reduce environmental pollution after the industrial revolution".

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Atos Origin staff will instead be encouraged to use instant messaging, social networks, shared internet and intranet sites, blogs and good old fashioned face-to-face meetings to communicate.

However a spokeswoman for the company admitted Atos won't be able to go entirely e-mail-free - and staff will still have to respond to e-mails from customers.

Speaking at a conference in Paris, Breton said: "The volume of e-mails we send and receive is unsustainable for business. Managers spend between five and 20 hours a week reading and writing e-mails. They are already using social media networking more than search.

"At Atos Origin. . . we have set up collaboration tools and social community platforms, to share and keep track of ideas. Businesses need to do more of this - e-mail is on the way out as the best way to do business."

But not everyone is convinced it would be possible for a company to go completely e-mail-free - yet. Richard Moir, chief technology officer for Cisco in Scotland, said: "There is a reduction in e-mail as social media grows and that trend will continue. But there will still be certain tasks like sending confidential information where there is still a requirement for e-mail."

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