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Are my work emails private?

work emails

If you work in an office setting, you might be wondering who besides yourself has access to your work emails. Basically, are you entitled to privacy when using your work email account?

The answer is no…but kind of yes.

Why your work emails aren’t private

When you’re given an official email at your workplace the expectation is that it’s to be used for official work-related communications. Whether you’re using it with clients or coworkers, when you’re sending messages through this account you’re representing your company.

First and foremost, the email address doesn’t belong to you. It’s a tool given to you by your employer to help you do your job better and communicate with other employees. And while yes, many people use it to swap recipes and photos of their kids, it’s important to be very careful about the types of emails you send and receive through this account.

The bottom line is that if your employer had grounds to search your email they can.

Don’t give them a reason to check

While your company emails and email address do not belong to you, it’s unlikely that your employer will go poking around your emails without just cause. This doesn’t mean you’re free to do what you want. Try not to bad mouth other employees, clients or your boss using your work email account on a company computer. Even if you delete your questionable correspondence, note that some company systems automatically save copies to the server.

If you need to vent to coworkers, it’s best to go for a walk on your lunch and talk it out. Sending unprofessional content through email could land you in hot water. Best case scenario you get a warning. You need to use your work email in the same way you’d use a company phone – use it only for work-related business or the occasional harmless message.  Don’t abuse this privilege.

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