During periods in our human history, some believed that the Earth was flat. And evidently, some still do! But as Pythagoras and others have proved otherwise, we have experienced a paradigm shift in how we perceive our world. We’ve reluctantly let go of long-held myths and adopted a new mode of thought.
In 1992, a group of about 100 scientists sent the first email attachment. Some were aghast, exclaiming what an obscene waste of bandwidth it was. Twenty-six years later, we think nothing of sending a massive file attached to an Outlook message.
But aside from file size and bandwidth concerns, we should consider other worries today. As we’ve adopted email as the primary collaboration vehicle, we continue to swap versions of files back and forth creating dozens, perhaps hundreds, of versions of the file with most iterations slightly different than the other. And of course, we have to find the corresponding message buried within our Inbox and then open that attached file to know how they differ, which is a blatant waste of time and productivity.
Now comes along came SharePoint. And OneDrive, too, which is actually a hidden SharePoint library. We can now share a link to a file as it remains in its place. The single file resides in its single location, yet it lives a dynamically unique life. When a link is used to access that file, we will open and view the most current version, sometimes so current that we are viewing a colleague co-author that document in real time right there on the computer screen.
This real-time scenario and unique document sharing is never more evident than when collaborating within Microsoft Teams. If we’ve shared a file while in a 1-to-1 Teams chat, then that file resides within the OneDrive document library of the person that shared the file. If we share a file to a Team or rather to a Teams’ Channel, then the file resides within the SharePoint document library and the sub-folder that corresponds to that particular Channel.
But when an Office document is opened while in Microsoft Teams, the document appears right there within the Teams environment. We can chat with co-workers in the right-hand rail alongside the document. And we can create an impromptu meeting to discuss edits without ever leaving the Teams interface.
Aside from the mechanics of what goes where within SharePoint, files need to remain in their designated online location and not be copied as disparate versions within various emails as attachments. Also, when a file is stored in this manner, then a history of the file remains available – if needs must, then you can revert to a previous iteration.
We have to step outside of our box and look at collaboration from a new perspective. Just because we did it one way for so many years does not make it right today.