Friday is ‘no e-mail’ day in bid to boost staff creativity

A
debate over whether e-mails help or hinder employee creativity will be sparked
by research to be published in the European Journal of Social Psychology.

Open
University professor Dr Adam Joinson’s paper Cyber Psychology argues that
e-mail communication can aid the creative process because it helps people put
forward ideas without fear of being judged.

But
food giant Nestlé Rowntree and National Lottery organiser Camelot have banned
employees from using e-mails on Fridays because of a belief that they can
inhibit creativity.

Dr
Joinson said his studies show that people are more likely to disclose
information about themselves when communicating over the Internet than doing so
face to face.

He
said, "In an exercise such as brainstorming people tend to come up with
more ideas that when sitting face-to-face. They are not so self-conscious and
not so concerned about being judged. There is less social pressure to
conform."

Paul
Kirkwood, a spokesman for Nestlé Rowntree, said the firm’s marketing director
Andrew Harrison introduced the e-mail ban on Fridays in a bid to generate more
ideas and improve communication.

The
ban is compulsory for the marketing department, but only voluntary for
employees in the food division.

Kirkwood
said, "He [Harrison] thought there would be a benefit to creativity by
encouraging people to talk to each other rather than simply dashing something
off on e-mail.

"It
is obviously better to talk to someone face-to-face sometimes rather than by
e-mail where the nuances of what someone is saying can be lost.

"I
think there is a danger of travelling too far down the e-mail road. You get to
the stage where people e-mail each other when they are only two desks
apart."

By
Ben Willmott

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