It is always embarrassing to have private information about yourself shared in a public manner. For example, if you share a secret with a friend, who then gets drunk and regales everyone at a party about the time you [insert highly embarrassing “secret” here], that really sucks. Or how about the time you accidentally reply to all to an email thread, and badmouth one of the recipients? Yikes, that could be painful.
In my six or so years of working in offices, I have *luckily* not had any highly embarrassing slip-ups, but I have had friends make such mistakes and even heard about large-scale accidental email sharing. For example, my department had an internal address that included the 10 or so of us in editorial. One coworker sent accidentally sent an email intended for his girlfriend to the internal address instead of hers — understandable because we each sent at least 30 emails per day through this address, but also pretty embarrassing for him. He asked that we just delete the email without reading it, but being naturally voyeuristic, of course we all read it! An even more damaging story comes from an employee many years ago who actually sent an email to his girlfriend over the wire (i.e., out to journalists with real news stories). It’s bad enough getting called out for having a pet name of “snookie bottom” by your coworkers, but having hundreds — if not thousands — of people know this would probably be pretty damaging to one’s ego (and most likely to one’s career as well).
Because of stories like these, I have always avoided sending personal information via my work accounts. The chance for mis-sends is high, and I prefer to avoid explaining to a future employer about why I was let go from a previous job for inappropriately using work email.
Seems like I had the right idea about this, as we now have another reason to not use work email for personal interaction: In a recent survey conducted by tech company Cyber-Ark, 1/3 of respondents (all senior IT employees) admitted to using their admin passwords to read confidential or sensitive information. What this means is that if you have managed to draw attention to yourself by either being too attractive, too important, or too annoying, the chances are pretty good that admins are reading all your email. And if you fall into the annoying category, they’re probably not only reading your email, but they’re trying to find a way to use it against you.
So leave off the work emails kids, or your next job may not only have no work email, but will probably require you to ask “Would you like fries with that?” about 500 times a day.
Thanks to Josh for sharing this with me from Techdirt.