Shared documents are exactly as their name describes them; they are a paperless solution that allows multiple users to use or work on a single file simultaneously, usually over the internet. It doesn’t matter where the users are geographically. As long as they have the right credentials, users will be able to access the document and collaborate with their colleagues. This makes shared documents integral for making remote teams efficient and successful.
But before you invest in a document management system or other technologies that support or enable file sharing, it’s important to understand that shared documents can also pose problems for remote users. Learning how to address these pitfalls will help you successfully integrate shared documents into your remote work setup and get the most out of this technology.
While using shared documents, remote workers may experience the following:
1. Transition issues
If your company has been using paper-centric processes for years or is adopting a remote work setup for the first time, the transition to using digitized documents can be far from a smooth ride. Some people will commit mistakes, while others may hesitate to adapt to changes, both of which eventually lead to inefficiencies.
Ask for everyone’s patience and do not cut corners when training your staff. Have experts in your team who can answer questions and guide everyone through unfamiliar steps. Keep in mind that while the transition may cost your company some, it’s a necessary step to reaping the returns of your tech investments.
Imagine writing an article on a piece of paper and telling everyone in your team to provide feedback or improve the piece as they please. The more people get involved, the more complicated your article will become, and the less likely that it will get finalized and published on time.
This is a common issue with shared documents. The greater the number of users inputting data or providing feedback, the more chaotic the document becomes. To resolve this issue, you have to assign clear responsibilities to specific people. For instance, you should clarify whose responsibility it is to research or input data and whose it is to provide feedback.
Moreover, provide specific users access to only the documents they need to finish their tasks. People in the marketing department, for example, do not need access to your accounting spreadsheets. Limiting the number of people accessing documents at any given time prevents errors and confusion.
3. Security risks
Paper documents are prone to damage and loss, but digitized documents aren’t fully secure either. Digital files are susceptible to risks like malware, cybertheft, unauthorized access, and exposure. Most of these risks are exacerbated by user error and risky behaviors, such as downloading content from suspicious websites, so it’s crucial that your team members follow cybersecurity best practices as they go about their tasks.
If your remote employees use their personal computers and smartphones for work, make sure these devices are equipped with the right security measures, such as firewalls and anti-malware software. Shared documents are usually stored in the cloud, which grants them an extra layer of protection, but you can never go wrong with fortifying the devices used to access them.
When you share a single document that multiple people can edit, then it might not be long before you have several copies of the same file, albeit with varying contents. This not only leads to confusion, but it may also result in valuable data loss.
You can address this problem by implementing strict version control on your shared documents. This lets you keep track of the different drafts and versions of a single document, along with their authors and when they were created or modified.
Shared documents, like other technologies, have their share of issues, but these are problems you can address with the right strategy or tools. PaperSave is a document management solution that makes it easy to process crucial shared documents for companies with both on-site and remote teams. Schedule a free personalized demo today to learn more about our product.