Infatuation with E-mail Dies as Companies Demand In-Person Contact

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Some companies are quickly losing their love of e-mail and its promise of speedy communication, opting instead for old-fashioned, face-to-face conversation.

An onslaught of spam combined with the frustrations of not-so-quick responses to e-mail requests is prompting some companies to limit how much time their employees spend on e-mail, USA Today reported.

Chicago-based U.S. Cellular, for example, has banned e-mail on Friday for at least the rest of the year. Veritas Software's marketing department also implemented a Friday e-mail ban among on-site employees at the Mountain View, Calif. site. Other divisions are thinking about similar limits.

"At first it was like, 'What? You're not going to let us use e-mail?' " said Michael Parker, 40, marketing manager at Veritas who gets about 300 e-mails a day. "But we've increased the person-to-person interaction. E-mail is like drug addiction. You say, 'I can stop anytime,' or 'I'll just send one more.' Then you're on for hours."

A survey by Siemens Communications suggests that e-mail isn't all it's cracked up to be. Two-thirds of employees surveyed said they have to leave multiple messages in different places to get an answer quickly. Another big complaint, by 65 percent, was that the slow responses mean decisions have to be delayed.

"People are spending most of their time supporting communication rather than being productive," Tim Miller, director of application planning at Siemens, told USA Today.

"It's valuable from a team-building perspective," Veritas spokesman Andrew McCarthy said. "You can be furiously e-mailing someone even as you're looking at the back of their head. This is really about trying to get people to collaborate."

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