UPDATED: Acceptable use of email in the workplace

Dear employee,

Email is an important tool for your work here at King County, and it is most effective when used appropriately. It is important that each employee understands the legislation and policies that apply to our use of email:

Acceptable Use of Information Assets Policy

One of our eight core values is “We respect all people,” and the way that we communicate with another is central to being a safe, respectful, and inclusive workplace. King County’s Acceptable Use of Information Assets Policy sets out the acceptable and prohibited use of all information assets, including email. The policy states that “Workforce Members shall ensure that King County information assets are used appropriately for King County business” (section 5.2). Minimal personal use is permitted “provided that the use is not prohibited as defined in section 5.3, and provided the use has the appearance of professionalism even if it is not used in a public setting” (section 5.4). The policy also outlines prohibited uses, including private or personal for-profit activities, conducting political activity, unsanctioned solicitation, harassment or intimidation, accessing obscene content, gambling, or other activities and services (section 5.3).

Public Records Act Requests

All emails distributed and received through work emails ending in @kingcounty.gov that relate to County business are of public record. This means that any member of the public can submit a public disclosure request to see them. Please be aware that your King County emails can be made available if requested, and therefore it is expected that you maintain professionalism in email communication as required by the Acceptable Use of Information Assets Policy. Forwarding of official King County business to personal email accounts is discouraged; public records are public records regardless of whether they are maintained in the County’s accounts or in the personal accounts of employees. If you need to access your work email, use OWA or an approved VPN.

Data Security

Providing services to the public in a confidential and secure manner is critical to how King County does business. While KCIT is working to limit spam and phishing emails, it is important employees are aware of the risk these emails pose to private information. Learn more about spam and phishing emails here.

This year a new way to identify external emails was implemented, but employees should still be cautious of all strange or unusual emails. For questions about possible phishing or spam emails contact the KCIT HelpDesk at 206-263-HELP (4357) or visit the HelpDesk website.

Professional Guidance

It’s always useful to consider how email impacts the work employees do, and as such, take into account any timelines or project needs when using email.

Some ideas to help streamline and make email more effective can be:

  • Responding in a timely manner to employees and the public to ensure good customer service
  • Limiting the use of “Reply All” to keep only those necessary informed and respect other’s time
  • Only forwarding emails if permission has been given or the email has been reviewed so as to limit unnecessarily sharing confidential information
  • Including a signature block within emails to help employees identify and contact one another more easily.

Email is an effective tool to help us do the work of serving our customers. Please consider how you use email and other tools to make our workplace effective, respectful, and safe, and our community a welcoming place where every person can thrive.