Zero Email Friday is catching on

Today, one hundred and fifty engineers, part of an information technology development group at Intel, are, for the second Friday in a row, not emailing each other. They are picking up telephones, they are walking out of their cubicles and talking to colleagues face to face, but they are not emailing within the group. (Their management isnâ''t completely insane, group members are allowed to use email for external communications.)

Intel is not the first company to establish a no-email Friday. PBD Worldwide Fulfillment Services in Alpharetta, Georgia, did it a year ago. The habit turned out to be hard to break; some employees had to put sticky notes on their computers to remind them not to dash out a quick email. But they did it, and soon you could hear chatter in the halls, just like in the pre-email days. Other companies on the no email bandwagon include Veritas Software in Mountain View, Calif. (now part of Symantec) and U.S. Cellular in Chicago.

Seems like small changes; a group here or there, just cutting out their emails to each other. But sometimes small changes lead to big things. After all, Casual Friday was just an experiment once, and now business casual is standard dress. In a world of Blackberries and iPhones, in which email never stops spinning, taking a break from the merry-go-round might be a great thing. Intelâ''s Nathan Zeides says heâ''ll let us know how Zero email Friday is going for him on his blog. Meanwhile, I need to process this morning's email.

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