U.K. phone retailer bans e-mail

The CEO at a U.K. phone retailer estimates that increased productivity resulting from his ban on office e-mail could save his company $1.6 million.

Jo Best Special to CNET News.com
The chief of U.K. mobile phone retailer Phones 4U has insisted that staff talk rather than e-mail, saying there will be instant benefits from the interdiction.

John Caudwell, CEO of High Street mobile retailer Phones 4U, announced Thursday that he'll ban all employees from using e-mail across the business.

The reasoning behind the total ban is apparently to improve productivity by reducing the time Phones 4U employees spend unnecessarily on e-mail--which Caudwell estimates will save the company around $1.6 million (1 million British pounds) a month.

The ban will apply to Phones 4U's roughly 2,500 employees who Caudwell believes will find themselves with an extra three hours a day on their hands. He said he introduced the "no e-mail policy" after seeing staff becoming chained to their computers, rather than talking to colleagues or customers in person.

"I saw that e-mail was insidiously invading Phones 4U, so I banned it immediately," Caudwell said in a statement. "Phones 4U staff have been told to get off the keyboards, get face-to-face or on to the phone to colleagues. The quality and efficiency of communication have been increased tremendously in one fell swoop; things are getting done; people aren't tied to their PCs," the CEO said.

Silicon.com's Jo Bestreported from London.