To Send or Not to Send – What Are Proper Office and Business E-mails, or Text Messaging?
Burman, Critton, Luttier and Coleman LLP Blog
By Rita Budnyk, Attorney, Of Counsel
Some of us have what we considered an office or work e-mail address and a home or personal e-mail address. That's good. Others may have an e-mail address only through their work or place of employment. At times, that's not so good. This blog will discuss why it is important to keep business and personal e-mails separate from each other, with some common sense exceptions. This discussion is equally applicable to text messaging and tweeting.
Over the years, various legal actions have given me the pleasure (or displeasure) of having to review literally thousands of what were supposed to be inter-office, corporate e-mails. I was amazed at the number of personal e-mails that were mixed with the business related e-mails. For example, in one civil action dealing with complex accounting issues, not only were there the appropriate e-mails discussing various spread sheets, there were also e-mails setting up personal dates (some with persons other than a spouse), even discussing details as to what type of wine to bring. Other inappropriate e-mails included pornographic pictures and jokes. Most of us, I believe would have the common sense not to send such e-mails using his or her office/business e-mail address; and most of us would not send such an e-mail using his or her personal e-mail address. A good rule is to "keep business purely business." Don't use the office e-mail system to discuss what you did last night or what your plans for the weekends might be. Don't become a "blogger," giving your personal opinion on any e-mail that crosses your screen. Use common sense too – there is nothing wrong with sending an office e-mail letting everyone know there are donuts in the kitchen, but mentioning that Bob ate six chocolate donuts probably isn't necessary.
Communicating with technology can be risky, but it is also very necessary in today's business. It is so easy to type and click on "send" without even thinking about what you may have just written. In the course of litigation, such technological communications can easily be taken out of context or used to embarrass a witness or party. Ironically, this is my first blog ever written – and hopefully, I have followed my own rule of sticking to topic and keeping it purely business.