I am a great believer in having an email signature on all my emails. I am also a great believer in keeping up with modern work techniques and changes that take place. Which is why I started this blog giving PA Tips and Secretarial Support.
When I started school things changed every decade, then the age of computing arrived, and things changed every 18 months, and now, with the aid of social media, they seem to change every minute. As a consequence; I attended a training course myself to find out what changes may be occurring over the next few months in our industry.
To my utter amazement, it seems to be with emails and email signatures. It is one of the strangest changes and I would never have thought about 12 months ago. To be fair, even last week. The standard convention has always been that when you send a business email, you add a signature. The signature tells the recipient your name, your job title, and contact details. Quite often there is a legal disclaimer. The disclaimer will state that the information provided is for the recipient only and if misdirected, please delete the email. Then, of course, there is the small advertisement about the company or a testimonial telling prospective customers or clients how good your business is. As I said, this is the standard, but each company may be different and offer different guidelines. My company abides by the above, and I have been pleased with this style of format.
Never the less, it has come to my attention that large organisations have started to remove surnames from people’s email signatures to have a generic email address. When I have called organisations and the person on the other end of the phone has given me an email address that is generic I am told that they will receive the email or that their first name is sufficient, and the message will reach them. It is not something I have given much thought to in the past.
However, it has been brought to my attention that the reason for this is that many staff (especially ladies) have found that during their working day they have given out their name, their email, and works telephone number. All useful forms of communication for a client or customer to contact them. This is where it gets interesting. Some of those people have then been stalked out of the office by the clients or customers. The client or customer has been able to locate them from the minimal amount of detail they obtained from the regular communication they had during a working relationship and then taken it one step further.
Facebook is an excellent tool for communication, as is Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc. However, we know there are risks associated with our personal data on these sites. For example, I have never put my birthday on social media or any reference to the day or month. I don’t put my address or house number, including photos of my home that could identify where I live. I have even found that I moderate my Facebook posts and opinions when using the various social media platforms. A form of self-restriction.
It only takes a few minutes for someone to find out those details, and you could have lost your identity or find that you are the proud owner of a new credit card that owes circa £10,000 worth of debt. It has never really occurred to me to extend some of that security to the emails I send, and the details people can glean from that.
In Conclusion, what will my email signature look like
As I said at the beginning, I had never thought about an email signature in this contex. It is fascinating when you spend a few minutes thinking about how vulnerable we have, and are becoming, digitally. So, the big question. Will I change? My email address only uses my first name, so there is no change there. What about my signature? You know, I think I may get the ladies in my office to change there’s. As the owner of a business and advising about PA Tips and Secretarial Support, I have put myself forward as the face of my company. I don’t feel I can then hide behind a title. I will, however, take a little more care about what I put in my emails and the amount of details people could glean from them.