Personal email accounts at work

On the surface letting your staff use their personal Gmail or Hotmail account for business purposes doesn’t sound like a bad idea. You offload the responsibility and costs assoicated and you can utilize one of the many free email service providers instead of paying for your own email services or Exchange server.

Here are a few items you should consider before letting this happen.

Branding

If someone is using their personal email account instead of a business account your branding is lost. Instead of advertising your domain/company/website using @yourcompany.com you are advertising for Microsoft (outlook.com), Google (gmail.com) or Yahoo (yahoo.com). As much as they appreciate your efforts to advertise their businesses I think their million dollar marketing campaigns do a sufficient job. Advertise for your business. Make sure everyone is using your domain name as much as possible. It improves brand recognition and it may even cause a few people to click on your website.

Ownership

Ownership of business email resides with the company. If you are using any email account @yourcompany.com it is owned by the business. Access rights and retention is all retained by the business. If you allow your email outside of your network to a personal email box then the ownership comes into question. An employee’s personal email account is just that, theirs. If they leave or decide to delete every email in their inbox it is up to them. The potential for loss and lawsuits is endless.

Access

Many free email service providers (Microsoft, Google, Yahoo) have data centers all over the world. This means that you data could be sitting anywhere. Why be concerned? It means that your data is not protected by Canadian law. It falls under whatever jurisdiction that it resides. Meaning, your data is subject to the Patriot Act in the US and other number of laws around the world. This may not be a concern if your information is not sensitive in nature but if it is make sure you know where your emails are.

Summary

This just scratches the surface of the potential problems you may encounter if you let your staff use their personal email for business purposes. The bottom line is there is simply too much risk associated with using personal email accounts.

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