98

I need to register at, for example, oracle.com and docker.com to download some (free) stuff, etc.

  • These accounts would be used only for the job I do at my company.
  • My company doesn't have any commercial relation to these other companies.
  • My company doesn't require me to use these websites, I just want to register at them because some specific task asks for it, or just because I want to.
  • Like most companies, they do not allow us to use the company's e-mail account for personal related stuff.
  • Although this is not a requirement, my workmates suggested I should avoid accessing personal mailboxes in the workstation.
  • If registering at these websites, there's a chance of receiving mail marketing even doing my best to opt them out at registering.

Should I use @company.com or @gmail.com?

  • 6
    How do the first and third point fit together? Either your work requires using those services, then you obviously use the work email, or your job doesn't require those services, then why the heck do you need access to them? – Polygnome Apr 8 at 22:22
  • 4
    Will you continue to own the account and all assets associated with it after you leave this employer? – jpmc26 Apr 9 at 7:42
  • 9
    @Polygnome Naybe because it isn't a strict requirement of the job per se, but a convenience to make the job easier? – glglgl Apr 9 at 11:18
  • 4
    @Polygnome Stackoverflow is a good example of a site that fitted the third point for me. – Ian Apr 10 at 10:00
  • 1
    @Ian - I've tended to keep separate Stackoverflow accounts for personal and work use, and a new account each time I change jobs. – Spudley Apr 10 at 10:25

13 Answers 13

158

You're not accessing the sites for personal reasons, you're accessing the sites to perform a work activity - ergo, use your work email address.

Furthermore, some companies require verification of an account before activating it, which is usually done via a link sent to you in an email. If you specify your personal address, you have to access that in order to click the link and this is usually prevented or not allowed in a corporate setting.

  • 24
    @Fattie I've never heard of this. What sort of sites are you talking about? – Clonkex Apr 9 at 0:54
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    @clonkex for example when renting server time such as AWS it's common to require a phone # – user2813274 Apr 9 at 2:04
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    I agree that this is the right answer. However, in some cases like Oracle, I feel like account registration is just a way for them to gather personal information they do not need to have access to so I would use a throwaway e-mail account (search for 10 minutes mail). I do not trust them to follow my wishes regarding marketing e-mails and unsubscribe-ability. – Thibault D. Apr 9 at 7:29
  • 5
    @TomášZato Even assuming you use SO only for things your employer requires you to, which seems unlikely, SO is providing a service to you. When you download software for business use from Oracle, they are licensing it in the context of that business. You can use SO from home, but you can't use software you got a business license for (or whatever) at home. Treat it like calling up a business partner and saying "Hi, this is Matt from <company>" versus "Hi, I'm a random interested person" -- which is more appropriate? – Matthew Read Apr 9 at 15:01
  • 3
    For StackExchange, I use my personal email. – Evorlor Apr 9 at 15:27
79

As suggested by the others, I would use a work-related mail.

However, I would suggest thinking ahead and don't use your personal work mail but one which is tied to your team or is set up especially for using to register at work-related websites. Something like developerteam@compayname.com.

This has the advantage that, if you leave the company its easy for someone to pick and use your accounts without the risk of exposing your emails.

  • 5
    Now that is a good point. plus 1 – Solar Mike Apr 8 at 13:49
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    While it is a good point... I would not sign up a group email without permission of your team lead or manager. Especially regarding free stuff which each dev may need a license to to be compliant. Paid stuff (support incidents, etc.) is different - then you wouldn't use your own work account (use group account, manager's account, or team lead account). – J. Chris Compton Apr 8 at 14:10
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    I'd be really, really hesitant to use a team email for that. That means on each communication, your entire team will get bothered. People usually don't take it lightly if fluff appears in their mailbox. – Abigail Apr 8 at 20:26
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    Our recommendation (I work for our org’s IT) is to create a purpose-specific email list (likely with just you as the only member) for each such interaction. Upon your separation, your manager can decide the disposition of your lists (assign to somebody, delete, etc). Use a good description. – John Hascall Apr 8 at 22:42
  • 1
    I second @JohnHascall's suggestion, that's what we do with accounts for all our service providers (web hosting, ISPs, ad networks, payment processors). Most of them redirect to our general operations alias, but we can customize them as needed, and people can write mail filters for them. – Barmar Apr 8 at 23:43
64

It all depends.

For something like StackOverflow I use my personal account as that is something that follows me from job to job.

If I'm registering something particular to my current position I used my work email.

17

As a general rule, don't co-mingle work and personal accounts

Use work accounts for work and setup separate personal accounts for personal use. Many many things can go wrong if you use personal accounts for work:

  1. It can lead to "whose account is it?" disputes: you own the account but the company relies on it and it may contain company data; whose is it now? Everyone's and no-one's. If you leave the company it's possible that the company (their lawyers) may demand that you provide them access to your account (I've read about this more than once on Stack Exchange). Are you okay with that? It's best to avoid this awkward and potentially legally complicated situation if you can.
  2. It can lead to data spills: are you prepared to lose years worth of personal emails because a service unexpectedly leaked proprietary company data to your personal email account (e.g. an automated Jira email contains a comment with legally-protected proprietary information)? What if a spill violates privacy or other laws (note: if you in any way work in healthcare or with the government or a government contractor this is especially important).
  3. It can lead to complicated hand-offs: are you going to give your personal password to the company when you leave the project or company? Probably not, so they will have some work to do if/when you leave, and in the meantime it will cause unnecessary hard feelings.
  4. It can put the company at risk if your account is hacked: suppose your personal account is hacked and used to try to exfiltrate company data (more common than you think), insert malware on the company network, or otherwise gain unauthorized access. Now it's "your fault" because it's your personal account. Not a fun situation to be in, and on top of it you may find yourself with a leak of confidential data into your personal account that has to be cleaned up (and possibly by your company, meaning turning over your credentials). There could be legal repercussions for the company and for yourself if the spill violates any laws.

In summary, just don't do it.

13

The sharp line is whether company assets and data will be involved

... And company assets and data should not be involved if the company hasn't authorized use of the site for those assets or data.

Another way to think of this is, "when you leave, will the signup/login be part of the hand-off?" Or should your replacement really be getting their own account?

As an example, StackExchange. If you are using the site for your professional edification, then the edification is for you the person since the lessons will remain in your brain.

If you are only viewing or downloading assets that are free but behind a signup-wall, then signups are disposable and it's a tossup either way. Consider the nature of the account and its customizations, and revisit the question of whether, if you were replacing another person in a role, you would expect the account to be handed off to you.

Other than any of that, I would tend to let accounts be personal.

Don't let the web site decide. For instance if you set up a PayPal account for your company to accept Visa-MC, PayPal will keenly ask a bunch of questions about YOU, and will even demand your personal SSN. That does not make it your account obviously. (It may make it a bad choice of vendor, but PayPal does this because of Know-Your-Customer laws).

6

If its work related, use your work email address.

As stated, you have work tasks that require you to access information on these websites. I cant imagine a company viewing this as personal.

6

I've faced this issue before and in my opinion it would be ok (or even best) to use your personal email for this.

Multiple reasons for this:

  • You might need these tools, info, ... for personal use or for other projects where you might not have access to you work email.
  • You avoid any spam reaching your professional email.
  • You prevent the companies offering these tools from gathering data on/about your company, which may push them to reach out to it etc.
  • As there is no requirement from your company to use these, there is also none for you to connect your professional mail to them.

Of course if you're not allowed to access any personal email or such then the above would not really matter

  • 6
    I would not use my personal email for work related activity. And as for spam, that is for the IT of the employer to sort out... As long as you are registering for relevant sites you will be ok. – Solar Mike Apr 8 at 13:48
  • 1
    I'm going to upvote this answer because these were my concerns when I wrote the answer and they make sense, maybe this is a matter of culture in the company. – Eric Sant'Anna Apr 8 at 14:48
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    I'd suggest that If you want to use the tools for personal use, then create a different personal account, at home, on your own computer - and keep separate from any work related activities. – Laconic Droid Apr 8 at 17:25
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    There are reasons not to do so: it can lead to awkward "who owns" it questions that go away if you use work accounts, you could wind up having confidential work data leaked to your personal email which can be a no-no, it's hard to do a clean hand-off if you need to leave, and if your personal account gets compromised it can put your work network at risk which doesn't look good because it can be considered to be "your fault". If you're worried about being able to use those services outside of work, create two accounts. – bob Apr 8 at 18:03
  • 2
    Upvoted because not everywhere is the same. Academia (where I work) is an extreme example of a blurring between personal and professional business (and personal email is never blocked in universities). Also in fields where people tend to move jobs fairly frequently maintaining a consistent web presence (or just keeping access to old materials) can mean having to use a personal address in some cases - but make that a fairly professional personal address. And exercise good judgement - don't make your personal email a corporate point of failure. – Chris H Apr 8 at 19:51
5

I have a dedicated GMail-address for this name-work@gmail.com. I don't use this address for any personal stuff, just work related accounts, mailing lists and similar - that is, if my employer seizes my computer and gets access to this account they won't find anything interesting.

However, this solution it is pretty useful because on your next work you might need an account at Oracle again and if you have used your @work-address the first time you signed up you probably need to re-register a new account.

  • This would violate many (most?) employment contracts. – Lightness Races in Orbit Apr 11 at 2:01
  • Not any contract I haveever signed up to. Why would it? – d-b Apr 11 at 5:10
  • Because you're supposed to use company technology for company work? If I start sending emails with the company name in purporting to be about company business, and they don't go through the corporate IT infrastructure, I've gone off-piste. The emails can't be monitored/stored/archived/virus-checked/whatever it is that IT does. Usually you are not permitted to do that. It's also interesting that you say "if my employer seizes my computer and gets access to this account they won't find anything interesting" - the employer's supposed to have access to your work accounts already. – Lightness Races in Orbit Apr 11 at 10:47
  • But there is a big grayzone between company and private. If I work as a Java developer I need to stay current with the development of Java which is a private need that is also advantageous for my work. If I ask a Java question on a mailing list that answer might come in handy three years from now when I have changed my work. Besides I didn't suggest you put in your company name in this e-mail address, I suggested you used your name -work or something like that (johndoe-work@gmail.com) which give some relevant information to the recipient of a message too. – d-b Apr 11 at 12:28
  • Besides, I think most people would frown upon an employer that seizes your computer and check your private Facebook account that you happened to be logged in to, even if the employer formally might have the right to do that (or takes your company phone and check your private SMS to your partner). In an extreme situation that might happen but normally that is completely unacceptable. – d-b Apr 11 at 12:30
4

While all the other answers are clear cut, I can see why you’d hesitate. Take SE itself, for instance, the line between work and personal is blurred. What might start off as "work only" might transition to personal, too and vice versa. Why not use your "personal" rep to start a bounty to get a "work" question answered quickly?

To account for that, I’d add that many sites have provision to change your registered email address (or merge accounts) should you (e.g.) leave your current company but wish to retain your membership. It’s in their best interests to keep members, too.

But you should remember to do it while you still have access to both accounts, and remember to delete anything that isn’t explicitly your IP. While I don’t think anyone will come after you for a SE question, github and dockerhub are just about perfect places for unwitting IP leakage. It might be simpler just to start again.

2

I extensively use Blur for exactly this purpose.

It allows one to generate a masked email address for each website you wish to register to, which then gets forwarded to your real address.

This helps protect one against spammers as it allows you to simply block that particular masked address. It also indicates which sites/companies are selling your data because you can see if you receive a mail from a random company to a masked address that you gave to only one place.

The browser extension provides a simple popup dialog when selecting an E-mail field. enter image description here

1

I suggest using your personal E-mail account because you may want to use the same site for personal reasons later on.

Generally I use the company E-mail account only when the company specifically requires me to do so.

My company doesn't require me to use these websites, I just want to register at them because some specific task asks for it, or just because I want to.

As stated in your question, this is clearly not the case. Using your personal account is more appropriate.

1

It depends on you company's policy and what websites / tools are we talking about.

Personally I prefer to use a personal account for management tools, git repositories and other dev tools and websites I use unless I get specific instructions not to do so or if I am sure I will not use the account in case I leave.

I will however not mix my personal account with my work email account, or a company PayPal account with my own. If we're talking about StackExchange (just as an example), I'd rather use my own account.

0

Are you supposed to transfer the account to your company when you left?

If yes, you should use a transferable work email.

If it's clear you should keep the account, you should use your personal email. Companies could have specific rules against this in every case. But a github account could have contributed to both company and personal repositories, and there is the flight mileage thing. I'll not assume anything the usual practice, and recommend you not, but clearly some companies are not against this. It may be even impractical to create and use company accounts on some shopping sites, unless you have the highest authority.

If nobody cares, it's likely the account will be permanently inactive. But if you don't think it belongs to you anymore anyway, better assume it belongs to your company. But don't think about that too much.

To be clear, I consider edu emails ambiguously personal or not, and will not discuss it in this answer.

protected by Mister Positive Apr 9 at 11:18

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