MU Extension new employee orientation

Acceptable use of technology

MU Extension Acceptable Use Policy for Information Technology Resources

University of Missouri policy statement on use of technology

Missouri "Sunshine Law"

Workplace computer use

Many employees are unaware just how public a private e-mail can become. A large percentage of employees do not know that even their most personal messages may be stored electronically by their employers and can be reviewed later if an employee relations issue or legal investigation warrants the review of such e-mails.

Did you know?

  • Personal e-mail, instant messages (IMs) and unsent files created on a work computer could become business records.
  • Personal Web searches on your work computers could become business records.
  • Personal IMs to friends could become business records if they were sent on company computers.
  • Sending an e-mail to a friend creates a business record.

Remember that your work computer belongs to your employer and as such, any documents created, e-mails sent, or Web searches done at that computer are the property of the employer. Many employees may cry foul and claim an invasion of privacy, but companies must have document retention systems, and this includes any materials you create or send on the computer that you utilize at work.

Also know that companies don’t have carte blanche to probe an employee’s private e-mail. It is rarely done, and usually only under the auspices of an employee investigation or legal request. But it is done.

Keep this in mind as you use your university-owned computer and university computing resources. Follow these guidelines when using your work computer:

  • Keep private e-mail and IM conversations to a minimum. As an e-mail etiquette trainer once said “Any e-mail has the potential to go public. If you don’t want to see your e-mail on the front page of the newspaper, don’t send it.”
  • Do not carry on arguments or serious discussions via a series of e-mails. Nuances, voice tone and other non-verbal cues do not come through via e-mail, and messages may be easily misconstrued causing emotions to escalate. If a discussion becomes serious, pick up the phone or visit with person face to face. You may record the summary of the discussion via an e-mail, although this is not necessary.
  • Do not use the work computer for searches that include pornography, or send e-mails that contain pornographic or discriminatory messages or jokes. In addition to this being an inappropriate use of work time and university property, recipients of these types of messages may be offended, which could be a basis for workplace harassment.


There is e-mail etiquette training available. Contact Megan Martin, Training/Development Coordinator, University of Missouri Extension HR, to learn more about this training:  573-884-0958 or