Always Keep Personal And Professional Email Separate

We have all heard the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email accounts for government (possibly classified) communication and vise versa. But why the big deal and what about the rest of us who sometimes use work email for personal messages or the reverse? Are we as likely to wind up in some kind of trouble with our employers? Well, probably not.

HCEMThe rest of us aren’t running for president and most aren’t passing along secret government information. Still, there are several very important reasons to maintain a strict line between personal and business email accounts and information.

Many employers, government agencies and large companies, or those who governed by strict regulations on communication, already have email policies restricting use of business email for personal messages. But even if these kinds of rules don’t exist at your work, it’s still best to follow similar guidelines on your own.

First, it’s practical. If you’re like many busy professionals, you get dozens of emails every day on both home and work accounts. If you use a desktop or smartphone-based email delivery system such as Microsoft Outlook, it should be set up for one or the other – personal or professional – not both. While it’s easy to have multiple accounts drop content into these systems, managing all of that information and keeping track of each account can be maddening.

Separate use of accounts can also help you avoid embarrassing email mistakes. Imagine sending an email to a friend about some personal problem and having it end up in your boss’s inbox? There is no “unsend” button, remember?

outlook screenKeep in mind that there are presidents against personal privacy on employer-owned and maintained equipment. Your personal messages aren’t necessarily “private” nor do you have any ownership of it once you hit the send button. The employer has every right to review information being passed on company equipment, including your cell phone.

Speaking of which, if you use your smartphone to manage your email, it will depend on who pays for the phone as to how to best manage things. Just like the office computer, if the employer provides and pays for the phone, it belongs to them and they have full right and access to any information stored or passed on it.

On a side note, because of security or other considerations, some employers have policies regarding personal cell phone use in company space and might even require you to surrender your phone for inspection in some cases. Check with your boss, the human resources department or security manager for details on your employer’s policies.

Finally, you should keep a third account for what could be called “junk mail.” A junk mail account can be used for online purchases, retail reward programs, mailing lists, and so on. Don’t tie this account to any email delivery software but use only a free, online web access interface like on Gmail or Yahoo.

Maintaining complete separation of personal and professional email will take some diligence but it should be a priority. If you don’t already have a professional policy, establish your own, personal standards. In the end, it’ll make your life easier and keep back an question of impropriety at work.

For more information on how to best secure and manage email systems and information, contact GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. at 937-902-4857 or email

Watch the TV version of this article here … From WDTN-TV2 in Dayton’s “Living Dayton” program.