I've been working with lots of non-profit organizations lately, volunteering my time and technical abilities to help them solve problems with technology and I noticed that most of them are allowing employees and other long term volunteers to use personal email addresses for communications about the business. That's probably fine for new businesses that are getting started and some small businesses, but it could become a problem if left unchecked. I put together some reasons why employees should be using professional/corporate email addresses, see below.
Using professional/corporate email addresses:
- Maintains your professional image and creates an obvious association with your website. Using an email address that matches your website's domain establishes trust with the recipient because the email is coming from a credible source rather than a domain that's not associated with your business. Using personal email addresses may convey inexperience and even raise doubts about whether the sender is associated with the business at all.
- Grants complete control over the address so you can enforce security constraints and disable access when individuals leave the company. Without that ability, employees no longer with the business could continue engaging with external people like they still represent the company.
- Reduces the chances of emails from your employees being ignored by recipients and/or being marked as spam.
- Allows you to organize your emails by purpose and create lists, such as the email@example.com address, which exist to handle a specific type of communication.
- Creates the opportunity to collaborate better with other staff/volunteers in the organization by using software the comes with some email hosting suites, like Microsoft Office 365 or Google's G Suite. With those suites of software your employees can easily share calendars, documents, and more.
- Promotes awareness of your business "brand". This is important because branding is everything online (and offline). You need to ensure that your name is out there in the world to improve your chances of getting grants/sponsorships/etc and traffic to your website and events you put on.
- Keeps you from having to potentially look into people's personal addresses if you were to receive a Freedom of Information Act request.
- Saves you from the risk of losing potentially sensitive information by personal emails being hacked, which could violate your customer's privacy. If your employees are using personal emails to communicate with customers, all of your employees potentially have Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in their inboxes that belongs to customers. That data should only belong to the business and the customer, however using personal emails puts a third party in the mix (the person who's email is being used). If any of the current employees were to leave (or even if they stay), then their emails would continue to contain that PII (there's no way to ensure they've deleted it) forever.