Longest Serving Member of the Team? Your Work Email Account

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When employees move on to pastures new, there are usually some goodbye drinks (if they’re lucky), a card with ‘Good Luck’ scribbled over it 20 times in different handwriting, and a few nice words said before they pack-up and head off for their next adventure. But what many people forget is that even though they are physically out of the door, their work email address will live on.

Now, we are all incredibly hard-working individuals and spend our day with our heads down engrossed in various tasks. The problem however comes when our minds start to drift to out-of-work activities and we begin emailing those ‘Friday can’t come soon enough’ memes to friends, discussing dinner plans with our partner and replying to threads about weekends away. It only takes a minute to send those quick personal notes, but sending from a work email account could affect your reputation after you leave.

The employee may be counting down the days until their notice period is over, but when someone hands in their notice, there are a string of actions the business needs to undertake.

For instance, where will their emails go after the departure? Usually when employees leave, their emails get forwarded to their manager, which includes follow up requests from clients who didn’t know they were leaving. However, it also means that any personal emails they receive will also get forwarded on.

Outlook caches email addresses to make sending them as easy as possible. This means that when you start typing in the first few letters of someone’s name, the email address you usually use will immediately drop down. So when a friend emails a ‘Good luck on your first day’ it will automatically go to whichever account you usually use, and if that happens to be an old work email address then it is going straight into the manager’s inbox. It will take a while for Outlook to automatically register a new email address with an old name.

Now, we can all assume a ‘Good luck on your first day’ email won’t really be a problem if it filters into a manager’s inbox, but what about if you have been emailing your new place of work from your work email? Or, if you are having some time off in-between starting your new job and you’re still cc’d on those chains about the weekend away which keep popping up in your manager’s inbox, but this time your friends have found those embarrassing photos from the last trip away?

Take this one step further and imagine if you had been emailing your recruiter or your new boss from your old work email too. It means when your first day comes, it’s possible for them to accidentally send an introductory email or a few calendar invites to your old work email because outlook has registered the old email address as your main one. Of course they should be using name@newplaceofwork.com, but people make mistakes.

Realistically these slip-ups are only an issue if you are doing something you shouldn’t, but as an individual the rule of thumb should be don’t use your work email for personal things. It’s important to remember that just because you leave the company, it doesn’t mean your emails leave with you.

Your digital presence on email can last for up to three months, or until IT deletes your account, so you need to be careful that you are off those threads, and speaking to your new employer from a completely personal account.

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