It has come to management's attention that wireless email devices have begun to hinder employees' interpersonal communication skills. In light of that, the following guidelines update Chapter 3 on email.
Conditions of Use: It is generally acceptable for supervisors to send wireless emails while meeting with underlings — but not vice versa. Employees may not email at any engagement where the CEO is speaking; during off-site "trust exercises" that require colleagues to catch each other; and at "nonconfrontational" meetings with clients.
Mealtimes: During meals with colleagues, the use of wireless email devices is encouraged in the awkward lull between ordering and receiving food, and while awaiting the check. Employees generally should not, however, attempt to eat and email simultaneously.
Notification: In an effort to prevent workplace violence, the Company asks employees to silence devices at all times in the office.
Ergonomics: Many employees have taken to emailing, hunched over, with both hands, device nestled between the legs. The legal department has determined that this activity, though not technically harassment, could embarrass fellow employees. Hence, the Company now requires devices to be used above the waist or on the knee. Three or more "zone" violations may result in harsh disciplinary action.
Addiction: Though wireless communication is not technically classified as an addiction, the Company has started a support group for employees who derive pleasure from being tethered to their email at all times. (Senior managers: This group is code-named "Fast Track.")
A version of this article appeared in the November 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.