Usernames and email addresses in the workplace need a rethink

Jon Black 3 min read
Usernames and email addresses in the workplace need a rethink

My take on best practices around usernames and email addresses.

Watch me make myself an enemy of anyone who works in People & Culture nowadays.

One thing that seriously pisses me off from my time hopping from company to company is this weird obsession with the "we want all our employees to use [email protected] for their email addresses" mantra. Seriously, what the hell?

Companies go gaga over this convention because they think it gives them that cool startup feel, easy-to-read logins, emphasizes individual identity, and supports a flat org structure. Well, let me break it to you, you're not building to scale if you're sticking with this approach.

Sure, you can ride the "simple and startup" wave for a while, but as your organization grows and the John's and Jane's start popping up like daisies, you're in for a clusterfuck of confusion and duplicated usernames. Oh, and don't get me started on the nightmare of sorting out the contractor emails - [email protected] or [email protected]. Who's got time to untangle that mess?

So, let's cut the bullshit and talk sense. A more responsible, scalable, and honestly, saner approach?

Here it is: [email protected]

Optionally: [email protected]


Several categorical camps worth of reasons

The first camp: Observable parameters.

  • Every person on earth has a name. They usually comprise of a first name and a last name.
  • Every person works in a team.
  • The only differences between full time employees and contractors (if you have proper logging + role based access sorted) are the terms on which they are paid and their alignment with the company.

The second camp: Technical parameters.

Because your email breaks down into three (or in this case four with a subdomain) parts:

  • firstname.lastname: This is your username. It's unique, clear, and duplication-proof. Doesn't matter if you're a full-timer or a contractor - your role within the company is what counts.
  • @: This is your separator, no rocket science there.
  • team.: This is your function, your tribe.
  • This is your domain. It’s the umbrella that tells everyone you belong within the organization.

The third camp: It scales!

The likelihood that you are employing two Jon Blacks is pretty freaking low. In the event that you do, have them fight to the death. I kid. In reality you utilize a middle initial or name. You now have and

The fourth and final camp: We're emailing contacts!

Back at my time working for Telstra, there were a ton of people who wanted unique phone numbers with repeating digits and sequences. In the modern age this is pretty ridiculous.

I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that we were still dialing our mates Jerrys number, 0412 345 678, from memory. Or are we actually scrolling through our contacts and choosing a name?

And here's the kicker.

By using subdomains (, we’re not just solving the name-game headache. We're also drawing a clear line between group/common use email addresses and individual user addresses. It’s like spring cleaning for our digital workplace - everything becomes easier to manage, monitor, and secure.

Administrators, imagine having a subdomain just for newsletters or promotional stuff, like [email protected]. All that marketing jazz comes from one dedicated place, separate from the usual user emails. This not only keeps your main domain reputation sparkling clean but also ensures that if a subdomain hits the fan (like getting blacklisted by spamhaus or spam reports on gsuite/365), it doesn't drag the entire company's digital communication down with it.

So, there it is. Time to drop the half-assed practices and adopt a setup that's ready for scale and cuts through the digital chaos. It's a win-win all around, and it just makes fucking sense. Let's clean up this digital mess, folks.

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