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New workplace trends: No work email, ‘pay transparency’

Only a few companies are banning email outright, but others are setting limits in the evenings when employees don't email their colleagues. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON — What if your boss banned office email? What if you knew exactly what all of your co-workers are making?

These are among workplace trends a few employers are experimenting with, according to management expert David Burkas, author of the book, “Under New Management: How Leading Organizations are Upending Business as Usual.

Banning email can only practically be done when it applies to internal email, and experiments with an outright ban are limited.

There are only a few companies that are trying to become zero-email companies, which means “no internal email among teammates, just using old school technologies like phone calls and walking two doors down to the other person’s office,” Burkas told WTOP. “What most companies are doing is trying to set limits on it by either hours during the day when they don’t send email or sometimes shutting the servers off at night.”

Making employee salaries public is another notion more companies are experimenting with. Whole Foods is one of the largest companies that shares everyone’s salaries.

“Everybody falls into one of two categories. Either they are vehemently anti-transparency, or they work for the federal government or state and local governments or nonprofits where it already is transparent and they say, ‘Oh, well what’s the big deal,'” Burkas said.

There’s a payoff in pay transparency, Burkas contends.

“When you dive into the research it shows that it actually decreases this sort of partisan infighting that people are doing over who is overpaid or who doesn’t get paid enough. As long as the system is fair, it actually decreases infighting and increases morale,” he said.

There are many other unconventional workplace policies being implemented, often by big-name companies.

Zappos pays employees to quit. Netflix is among companies offering employees unlimited vacation. Morningstar Farms has no managers.

Other trends including hiring as a team, not as individuals; eliminating performance reviews, not offering noncompete clauses; encouraging sabbaticals and creating alumni networks for former employees.


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