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Is it ever okay to conduct professional business via personal email?


PeachyDoodle
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Professional Business, Personal Email  

63 members have voted

  1. 1. Under what circumstances is it acceptable to conduct professional business via your personal email account?

    • Never. It's unprofessional and makes it unnecessarily difficult to keep appropriate records and for customers to contact you.
      20
    • When the company is very small (e.g., sole proprieters, mom-and-pop operations).
      17
    • If the company doesn't have a website with a unique domain and, due to the nature of the business, has no need of one.
      15
    • When conducting business with someone with whom you have a relationship outside the business.
      7
    • As long as no sensitive information is exchanged, it probably doesn't matter one way or another.
      10
    • I couldn't care less what email address someone uses. How high on cough medicine are you to even come up with this ridiculous poll?
      16
    • Ubiquitous other ('cuz my ufzzy brain has undoubtedly left something out!)
      3


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I am sick and bored (and sick), so just thought I'd take it out on the unwitting Hivers who stumble into my trap, er, poll.

 

I assume most everyone has heard that the former US Secretary of State has come under fire for conducting a large percentage of state business via a personal email account instead of a government-issued one. Although the story has important political/legal/security implications, I'm not trying to address it directly here. (Would that violate board rules? I'm always confused about when we cross the line from policy into politics.)

 

Anyway, as a marketing and communications consultant to various nonprofits, I always encourage my clients to require all staff (even part-timers and key volunteers who interact with the public) to use an email address from the organization's domain (e.g., buffy @ chihuahuahandbagsforstarletsinneed.org). It's kind of a pet peeve of mine when they don't. I think using personal addresses makes the organization look sloppy and this has major implications for donations, etc. I think the same applies, maybe more so, to for-profit companies. Plus, it's very difficult to remember to email softkittywarmkitty @ yahoo.com about your commemorative plate order if you're not dealing with someone you know personally.

 

The biggest objection I get is, "But I'm not always in the office!" but of course it's ridiculously easy to route another domain's email through Gmail. (Obviously, if you're trafficking in state secrets, this might not be your best bet. But there are tons of easy and free ways to make networked email web-based for the average company.) IMO, domain names are so cheap that pretty much every company should have one, even if it redirects to a Wordpress blog or Facebook page.

 

What? I'm rambling? It's the fever talking. So... GO!

 

*Edited to fix my fake email addresses. :)

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A sole proprietor can do what she wants. It may not be part of the culture in some fields to have a separate email address. It would, however, be more professional to have one.

 

Anybody who is employed by a business or an organization needs to follow that business' or organization's rules. For most, that would include a requirement to use work email. Anybody working for a public entity must use the organization's email, because that is the only way the email becomes part of public record as the law requires.

 

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In regards to the not-mentioned-name-but-we-all-know-who-we're-talking-about - she's a public employee performing public duties, therefore YES, all of her public duties and email should have been on the governments server whether there was a law in place or not. If she wanted a personal email for all things that didn't fall under her public life - like pics of the grandkid - then she could have whatever personal account she wanted.

 

My dh a private citizen, works for a private company and even he is required to have all of his work email and correspondence go through his given email. 

 

 

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[email protected]<script cf-hash='f9e31' type="text/javascript"> /* */</script> = fine

 

[email protected]= unprofessional, especially if typed in purple Comic Sans with a floral wallpaper background

 

I would defer to the employer's preference.

 

Agreed.

 

I think it would be ok if the personal email still sounded professional even if it was a regular gmail accound or whatever. I do have an old email address that is ridiculous but I just use it for spam things nowadays and keep my gmail for things I don't want to miss.

 

If it is the office rules though then they should abide by that, it isn't hard to forward emails.

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[email protected]<script cf-hash='f9e31' type="text/javascript"> /* */</script> = fine

 

[email protected]= unprofessional, especially if typed in purple Comic Sans with a floral wallpaper background

 

I would defer to the employer's preference.

 

Side note:  when I quoted you, look how it turned out.... weird!  Maybe the forum just commented on this topic???

 

FloozyMcBoobBuckets@FuzzyNavel.com 

 

 

THIS though, I wanted to call out and say .... :lol:

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A sole proprietor can do what she wants. It may not be part of the culture in some fields to have a separate email address. It would, however, be more professional to have one.

 

Anybody who is employed by a business or an organization needs to follow that business' or organization's rules. For most, that would include a requirement to use work email. Anybody working for a public entity must use the organization's email, because that is the only way the email becomes part of public record as the law requires.

 

I tend to agree. If your marketing strategy is to cultivate a feeling of friendship rather than business-client relationship, that could work to your advantage. Although I still reserve the right to look down on you for it. ;)

 

Private employers certainly can opt for whatever policy they choose. I guess I'm looking more from the customer's perspective. At what point does it become a turn-off?

 

A little surprised by the "don't cares." Would you really be okay with conducting sensitive business via a Hotmail account? Would you communicate with your doctor that way, for instance? I'm surprised those didn't at least go with the "sensitive material" option.

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I tend to agree. If your marketing strategy is to cultivate a feeling of friendship rather than business-client relationship, that could work to your advantage. Although I still reserve the right to look down on you for it. ;)

 

Private employers certainly can opt for whatever policy they choose. I guess I'm looking more from the customer's perspective. At what point does it become a turn-off?

 

A little surprised by the "don't cares." Would you really be okay with conducting sensitive business via a Hotmail account? Would you communicate with your doctor that way, for instance? I'm surprised those didn't at least go with the "sensitive material" option.

Hotmail would worry me. Does anyone still use hotmail? My 80 year old grandmother finally switched to gmail. But honestly, most email servers are prone to security breaches. I've got more faith in Gmail than the weird (though very nice) guy who does our law firm IT. Confidentiality is relative, and I think of it more in legal terms (can this person testify regarding this information) than actual privacy.

 

I am interested to know why Secretary Clinton and Governor Bush et al hosted private domains instead of using the government accounts. It just seems like such an obvious thing for someone to try to scandalize. Surely they knew the NSA and hackers could get at anything, so it can't be that they were doing nefarious junk with them. They either had a good reason for it or else were clueless. Sec. Clinton doesn't strike me as clueless!

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So, I'm a bleeding heart liberal, and even I was surprised by this.  I don't care that Colin Powell apparently did it as well, either.  It just really shocked me, but then again, the government/White House has always been far behind in Internet matters as far as I can tell.  I mean Clinton sent only two emails (or so he says) and he was in office until 2001 for Pete's sake.  

 

As for work, even in the 90s, we were expected to use our work email address for work-related business.

 

I'd make an exception for a consultant or small business with a professional email address such as JDoe@gmail.com or something like that.

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As a customer I expect to get emails from non-personal accounts.  In the case we're not talking about, I think things are rather different.  I expect her staffers took care of a significant amount of the work-related emails on with official email addresses and it's apparently not against policy to use a personal account.  She wouldn't really have been emailing anyone who might have been considered a "customer."  If I got an email from Jeff Bezos, I wouldn't necessarily expect it to come from an Amazon.com address. But I would expect an email from his secretary to come from one.  Does that make any sense?

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[email protected]<script cf-hash='f9e31' type="text/javascript"> /* */</script> = fine

 

[email protected]= unprofessional, especially if typed in purple Comic Sans with a floral wallpaper background

 

I would defer to the employer's preference.

It took me longer than I would like to admit to figure out why you would fine someone with a professional sounding domain name.  :blush:

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When I was working for a private business we mostly used the company email but we occasionally used personal email to communicate with each other, but not with others outside the company. We worked many weekends due to heavy workload and time zone issues, and the company was HQ'd abroad so the holidays didn't always line up. Sometimes we had work to do while they were doing network or server upgrades and we would switch to our personal accounts. (POP and IMAP mail, no web mail back then.) It was never a big deal. 

 

For my own business now, it's just me and I use my personal email.

 

I think it's a big deal if there's a prohibition by the company and if the people are public employees.

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Generally, I don't think it's appropriate. However, if you have a personal relationship with someone, then it's ok.

 

My bigger pet peeve, however, is when people send out personal emails through their work email account. (Especially when they're a mere employee)

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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I think there are two different situations going on here that need to be thought about differently.

 

1) Conducting business on behalf of your employer with a different "From" address than the company's.

2) Using your company's "From" address, but silently forwarding it off-site, to a mail server that they don't control (like gmail).

 

#1 looks kind of tacky, perhaps with the exception of very small businesses.

 

#2 is probably against most company's policies, but I understand why people do it, because a lot of in-house email systems are horrible.  My guess is that government employees who are getting in trouble for this are doing #2, perhaps because their government systems don't support email on phones very well, or decent searching, etc.

 

 

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DH works for a university and was given an email address as a part of his job. This is a company town, and almost everyone here works for one of the two universities in town. Almost every person I know has and uses their university assigned email address as their personal email address. My sister also lives in town and works for the 'other' university. She maintains two emails, but I am just as likely to get an email from her from her work addie as her personal one, so I don't see the point of it, but whatever.

 

DH tried getting a separate email, but it was just too much of a hassle. So many of our friends also work at the university that anyone who wants to contact him via email will just use his work one. Plus, he gets hundreds upon hundreds of email per day, so having a second email to check for other reasons became too much of a hassle. Once you add in facebook, where he also gets work related messages, it gets nuts. 

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Hotmail would worry me. Does anyone still use hotmail? My 80 year old grandmother finally switched to gmail. But honestly, most email servers are prone to security breaches. I've got more faith in Gmail than the weird (though very nice) guy who does our law firm IT. Confidentiality is relative, and I think of it more in legal terms (can this person testify regarding this information) than actual privacy.

 

I am interested to know why Secretary Clinton and Governor Bush et al hosted private domains instead of using the government accounts. It just seems like such an obvious thing for someone to try to scandalize. Surely they knew the NSA and hackers could get at anything, so it can't be that they were doing nefarious junk with them. They either had a good reason for it or else were clueless. Sec. Clinton doesn't strike me as clueless!

 

In my mind, there is one reason for this.  To control the flow of information that makes it out into the public domain.  Even now the AP is having to threaten to sue to get access to her emails.  AND if I understand it correctly, IF the Benghazi committee is just now subpoenaing her emails, they didn't know until just now that she even had a private server that she used for her emails.

 

http://news.yahoo.com/benghazi-committee-to-subpoena-clinton-s-emails-192823541.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/05/business/media/associated-press-threatens-legal-action-over-request-for-hillary-clinton-information.html

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I think it's best to use the work email, but there have been times I've sent stuff from my personal email - and asked others to cc my personal email - because my work email doesn't like some of my clients.  I have had important emails disappear into cyberspace because our spam filter knows that bank once had a data breach or whatever.  I've informed those folks why I use personal email sometimes with them.  (But I always have my work email on the routing regardless, and use my work signature.)  Also, there are times when I am traveling internationally and connectivity to my work email is temporarily unavailable.  Don't ask me why, but my personal email is a lot more reliable.  It's better to send stuff from there than to not send it at all and miss deadlines etc.  But if I can use my work email, I do.

 

I do think it's unprofessional to send, as you say, a "large percentage" of work emails from a personal email.  I would also get a bit suspicious as to what the person is trying to avoid/hide.  Nowadays the norm is that you can access your work email address while traveling.  I have had this capability for at least the past 15 years, probably longer, including the past 7 years as part of a very small business.  I've accessed my work email from remote places in developing countries.  I accessed it from Macchu Picchu in 2007 and from India before that.  So I'm not sure I have much sympathy for a high level diplomat not knowing how to do that.

 

But for argument's sake, let's say it's impossible for the diplomat to connect with her work email on many travel trips.  If that is the case, she should set up a new email on a more reliable system, but have it be dedicated to work and have it as transparent as her work email.

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Hotmail would worry me. Does anyone still use hotmail? My 80 year old grandmother finally switched to gmail. But honestly, most email servers are prone to security breaches. I've got more faith in Gmail than the weird (though very nice) guy who does our law firm IT. Confidentiality is relative, and I think of it more in legal terms (can this person testify regarding this information) than actual privacy.

 

I am interested to know why Secretary Clinton and Governor Bush et al hosted private domains instead of using the government accounts. It just seems like such an obvious thing for someone to try to scandalize. Surely they knew the NSA and hackers could get at anything, so it can't be that they were doing nefarious junk with them. They either had a good reason for it or else were clueless. Sec. Clinton doesn't strike me as clueless!

 

I use hotmail (personal email), and I find it a lot more reliable than my work email.  Also I hardly get any spam on hotmail.  Not sure why.

 

As for "it seems like such an obvious thing for someone to try to scandalize," maybe, but maybe not.  It may depend on what's being said.  I mean, if I'm traveling and I want to quickly let someone know my plane got delayed, or I'm available for a meeting at x time, or I received their email and will work on their request later, then who cares if I do that on my smart phone, which only sends from hotmail?  Or if it's something really important, I would think people would be more concerned about me getting it done vs. which email I sent it from.

 

I also think the whole government email scrutiny thing is relatively recent.

 

Not a fan of that person, just responding from my own viewpoint.

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I'm not going to touch the Clinton thing which as OP said has so many layers where do you even start.

 

What I'm thinking is, I will use my personal e-mail as a consultant if I don't have a domain name.

 

I will occasionally use it if I'm having a hard time getting my work e-mail to sync up to my phone.

 

But then, my personal email is firstname.lastname@majorfreemaildoman.com. It doesn't look unprofessional. I will also send things copy to my personal mail.

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In regards to the not-mentioned-name-but-we-all-know-who-we're-talking-about - 

 

 

She Who Must Not Be Named?  :D

 

Personally, I think if you have a relationship outside the business it is fine.  I don't assume any thing I put out in the interwebs is private so generally that doesn't concern me.  But, I work for a very small non-profit (two employees, including myself) and once had to send a couple of emails from my personal account while our server was down.  My personal email has "firefly" in it and I was a chagrined enough to create a new email (firstname.lastname type) solely for future use should the need arise again.  I didn't want to advertise my nerdiness to business contacts... though maybe some thought I was an entomology enthusiast.  ^_^

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If someone emails to your personal email it's fine to reply with something telling them you saw said email and will touch base with them when you get back to the office. I think it would be weird not to. However to work for a public or government entity and to conduct the majority of your emails from a non-public account makes me question why.

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DH works in a federal capacity. Email is incredibly difficult to access outside of the office. Security protocols require special software to access it. I still find the diplomat's situation odd/suspicious considering the level of office, however it is not as simple as what the rest of us have to do to use our work email system.

 

I had a good laugh the other day when the delayed reporting (due to bad weather) email was sent to their work email addresses. EVERY official communication is sent via that address. However, no one received it because they don't check it if they are not at work.

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I have a domain. I have a professional email. I work for myself. I use a personal gmail 99% of the time for business. For the simple reason that I am too lazy to set up my work one on my phone. There's like a whole page of filling in stuff that I just don't feel like doing. I'm obstinately lazy about it.

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I always use mine and dh's business email addresses for business purposes. Same as I use the business bank account to pay the business bills and receive business earnings. It's just simpler and clearer that way, and we don't end up losing any records that we might need later. It is so easy to set up multiple email addresses (I think we have a couple of dozen of them), I don't see why you wouldn't.

 

 

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