Nielsen Deletes Reply-To-All Button

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This happened last Tuesday, but we wanted to make sure you’re aware that Nielsen management, after years of research, has finally come up with an adequate solution to cluttered e-mail inboxes and inefficiency in office environments: control-deleting the reply-to-all button from the messaging software.

In a move that could have come straight from Mike Judge’s Office Space, the company has decided to remove the button from their e-mail program of choice, Microsoft Outlook, affecting all 35,000 employees across the globe. In a memo, republished by Folio, Andrew Cawood, Chief Information Officer for Nielsen Company, writes that the measure will “eliminate bureaucracy and inefficiency”.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the reply-to-all button either, but removing it sure sounds like a very extreme decision, and claiming that it will eliminate bureaucracy and inefficiency is just plain absurd.

Memo below.

“REPLY TO ALL” FUNCTION TO BE DISABLED

A Message from Andrew Cawood

In December, the Nielsen Executive Council (NEC) held an Act Now! event to review suggestions from across the business that would eliminate bureaucracy and inefficiency. Beginning Thursday, January 29, we will implement one of the approved recommendations: removing the “Reply to All” functionality from Microsoft Outlook.

We have noticed that the “Reply to All” functionality results in unnecessary inbox clutter. Beginning Thursday we will eliminate this function, allowing you to reply only to the sender. Responders who want to copy all can do so by selecting the names or using a distribution list.

Eliminating the “Reply to All” function will:

• Require us to copy only those who need to be involved in an e-mail conversation
• Reduce non-essential messages in mailboxes, freeing up our time as well as server space

This is one of the many changes being implemented as a result of the NEC Act Now! initiative. If you have any suggestions on how we can continue to improve the way we work, please send your comments to Nielsen Communications [mailto: REDACTED].

Andrew Cawood
Chief Information Officer

It’s funny to me that Nielsen seems to suggest that the change has actually been requested by employees across the board, which I’m quite certain was not the case.

About half a year ago Mitchell Habib, Executive Vice President at Nielsen, managed to accidentally cc all Nielsen employees in a reportedly arrogant note to another employee, ending his e-mail with the now famous-in-certain-circles punch line “Who do you work for, and why do you think copying me on this is appropriate?”.

I suspect that particular blunder led to this strange situation.

Hat tip to BP for pointing to the Folio article and suggesting that we should read the comments. He was right.

My three personal favorites:

“Fine! Who needs to reply to all anyway. I don’t even have electricity on my farm and I never needed to reply to all. Besides it’s known fact that if you “Reply to All” your email goes into Sub-space and attracts Demon Vampires from The Future. It’s your choice.”

“In December, the Nielsen Executive Council (NEC) held an Act Now! event to review suggestions from across the business that would eliminate bureaucracy and inefficiency. Beginning Thursday, January 29, we will implement one of the approved recommendations: removing the “Q” key from all Nielsen Company computers. We have noticed that the “Q” key is only used 19% of the time throughout a typical work day as opposed to the most utilized letters, A, R ,S, T , and L, This results in unnecessary keystrokes, causing a waste of time and silly words that use the letter Q. Beginning Thursday we will remove all “Q” keys, allowing you to type only words without the letter “Q”. Employees who want to use the letter “Q” can now substitute the “asterisk” symbol for all words containing “Q”…. “

“It is remarkable to see how Mitchell Habib’s harrassing comments to an accidental “reply to all” respondent has led to an initiative to prevent him from humiliating himself again. It is discouraging to see that money saved through layoffs is used to finance discussions about the “Reply to All Crisis.” I wonder how many high-level executives were flown from around the world to resolve this threat. I wonder if those in charge of this brainchild are the same people that disabled power-save mode from Nielsen computers. Keep up the great work CIO! Look forward to a new comedy of errors in 2009. May I suggest eliminating air conditioning?”

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