To email or not to email?
What I want to know is: Why is this even a debate???
Since when is it ok to conduct personal business at the office? I mean sure, you have a lunch hour which allows the opportunity to get personal things done, but I don’t think that gives you license to use company property for something that it was not intended for. And people scratch their heads when they hear of someone getting fired for it. This should be a no-brainer folks.
THIS IS WHY THERE’S HOTMAIL, GMAIL, AND YAHOO! EMAIL ACCOUNTS! They’re free and you can access them during your lunch hour to check your personal email.
I’ll freely admit I had used company email accounts for personal use… but then I stopped doing that - years ago - when I realized (finally) that the company could totally access my account if they so desired. As it was, they could probably have made their way into my personal accounts, though I doubt they did. I became very careful about email for personal use when I saw how dangerous it could be.
Email can be tricky… however, a company email account should be used ONLY for company use. I mean, really.
I think the same goes for telephone use. It should be used for personal reasons - during lunch hours or before/after work - and even then only sparingly. In places where I used to work, I did not want people overhearing me (or listening in) scheduling doctor's appointments or other job interviews. Sure, empty offices can be used for this reason but that also tends to raise eyebrows.
People need to be smart about their personal use of company property, and I don't think that companies are wrong by putting forth policies that restrict it. That's all I'm saying.
It sounds like you see some interesting emails! This is exactly the point I was making the other day about email: people should not be using company email for personal use. If they do, they should proceed knowing that someone could be watching.
However, I need to elaborate on email as a CYA tool. I wholeheartedly agree that it's probably time to find a new job if all you're doing is sending emails to CYA - BUT - it's not that simple. I was once in a situation where I was being character-assassinated and I refused to tolerate it. Anonymous, between November '04 and April '06, I sent out 200 resumes, had dozens of interviews and did NOT find another job. I came close several times but nothing worked out (which is why I quit and started my own business). SO... during this time I had to keep my boss from completely ruining my reputation (which had, prior to this disintigration, been damn near pristine). I worked for a micromanaging bat-$#@%-crazy boss who was out to tear me down at whatever cost. In order to defend myself, I put EVERYTHING in emails. When I left, I pdf'd many of them as reference (I write this blog, articles and books now from the experience) - they number in the thousands. I deleted the ones I knew I wouldn't need -- and those also numbered in the thousands.
Email should be used as a CYA tool when there is nothing else available as documentation UNTIL the individual can get the hell outta Dodge!
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