Posted by: kerrywills | August 30, 2013

Shared Document Etiquette

For the next installment of the workplace etiquette series, I will talk about shared documents. These are working documents shared by the team on sites such as Sharepoint. Usually there is a process to “check out” files so they can be worked on, which locks out other people from editing them. These are important tools on a program because they allow people to share files and control versions. But, there is a certain etiquette required to use shared documents with some examples below.

  • Make sure you have the document checked out before working on it. Nothing is more frustrating than realizing this and then trying to figure out how to save your work
  • Be organized and use folders – it bugs me when a shared drive is a list of 100 unrelated files and nothing can be found easily
  • Don’t post all sorts of unimportant files and documents used to inform the master copies. This just clutters up the folders and makes it hard to find important files
  • Don’t keep files checked out for long periods of time. Check it out, do your work and check it back in. The whole concept of shared documents is to share them which doesn’t mean to check it out and then go to 8 hours of meetings away from your computer while other people are trying to work on the file
  • Don’t work on a local copy and then try to upload it, which will cause version issues and probably overwrite other people’s work. I just had this happen to me last week where I spent an hour merging files because someone had overwritten a new file with an old version of it that they were working on


Since most projects and programs produce large quantities of files, document management and sharing is very important and needs the proper consideration. Otherwise your file folders will look like an episode of ‘extreme hoarders’ with crap thrown everywhere, the inability to find anything and possible a few dead cats laying around.


  1. […] Kerry Wills has some points of etiquette to share, regarding shared documents. […]

  2. Good pointers. Especially for teams with junior members.

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