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Tech Company Bans Inter-Office Emails In Favor Of Walking Chats

CEO of Nara encourages employees to speak to each other in person rather than through a machine.

Daniela Walker
Daniela Walker on May 1, 2013. @emptyofpocket

The whole ethos at Nara is to make the Internet a more personal place. The web platform combines Google and Pandora to give personalized search recommendations, sifting through all the noise on the Internet to provide users with a curated list of what they are looking for. While online, Nara looks to make the web a smaller place, in the real world, the company spreads its mission of intimacy to its work culture, encouraging employees to talk to each other rather than IM’ing or emailing someone in the cubicle over.

‘Connection and communication can be used synonymously,’ CEO Tom Copeman told Fast Company. To enforce that notion, Copeman has a policy that bans intra-office emails. He wasn’t looking to make his employees lives a more physically active (though that helps), rather Copeman based his policy on neuroscience research that stresses the importance of human connections. A useful side-effect was that walking can actually stimulate creative thinking. Says Copeman:

If you are in one place too long, you’re not getting any perspective, so we might be outside, looking at nature, and looking at the city and hearing different sounds that all have an effect on our brains. It’s all different stimuli.

His policy encourages workers to get up from their desks, get their ideas flowing and be inspired by their surroundings. Copeman found that with this verbal communication policy, people presented ideas to him more clearly because was to be spoken.

I really have this philosophy that if you can’t say something very simply–especially when you’re trying to get buy-in and communicate what you are feeling and thinking–it’s too complex and you don’t understand it yet.

With smartphones and computers increasingly becoming our 5th limb, Copeman’s strategy, which places emphasis on face-to-face human interaction, is refreshingly simple and really is as low-tech as it gets.

Nara

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Daniela Walker is a regular contributor to PSFK. She is also a freelance writer and avid believer that a square (or two) of dark chocolate a day truly does keep the doctor away.

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