Business Tips

12 real-time document collaboration tips

Remote employees can work together just as effectively as those seated next to each other in an on-site workplace. Using a vast array of collaborative tools, including saving and storing files in the cloud, teams can generate and share essential business documents without the inefficiencies and duplication of efforts found in the past.  

Here are 12 tips on how to produce a document through real-time collaboration: 

1. Share files 

Sharing files via email is one approach to team collaboration. But sometimes files are too large to send via email, and other times edits get lost in the constant back-and-forth and overlapping of edits. File-sharing through a cloud storage service is far more efficient and works with virtually all file types, ranging from PDFs to videos and spreadsheets.  

2. Manage access to files 

You can set sharing permissions that designate who among the collaborative team can access a particular file. Use lock-sharing to ensure that no one other than those on your list can review or modify a file. 

3. Designate file confidentiality and security 

When a file is shared, there’s always the chance it will find its way outside appropriate team member access. The “file labels” function enables you to classify and protect a file (for example, by labeling it “confidential”), thus limiting access to users on the team who are authorized to open a confidential document. These file labels can’t be copied or forwarded or (if so designated) opened by an authorized user beyond a specified date. 

4. Track changes 

When editing a shared document, it’s best to enable track changes to easily see and monitor changes made by others. 

5. Researcher, Smart Lookup and Rewrite Suggestions 

Here’s a trio of useful features in Word that not many people use. Researcher helps you to find quotes, citable sources and images on almost any topic. Smart Lookup shows you definitions and images for text that you highlight, and Rewrite Suggestions proposes ideas for how to rephrase a couple of words or a whole sentence. 


Most documents allow you to attach comments to the text in the file. Comments are great for asking questions, getting clarification, and making recommendations. Also, by using the @-sign with a fellow employee’s name, the mentioned person receives an email with a link to your comment. When they click on the link, they can open the document and participate in the conversation.  

7. Combine and compare changes 

It can be beneficial to review changes made to a document at different stages or timeframes. With this feature, you can view a previous version of the document next to a newer version and even merge changes. 

8. Use version history to review document changes 

When you save a file into cloud storage, most providers automatically setup version history for that file. With version history, you can review and restore prior versions of a document to recover past edits or versions. You can also compare different versions of the file to see the exact changes made. 

9. Lock documents 

Sensitive or timely documents can be protected from unwanted edits through the lock-document feature. Also, you can restrict editing to only specific types of changes. 

10. Use Editor feature in Word 

This AI-powered function in Microsoft Word offers valuable grammar and spelling assistance with documents, email messages, and postings on social media platforms. It can also assist with clarifying content plus suggest vocabulary, making a message more concise, and other advanced style refinements. 

11. Restore deleted files from the recycle bin 

What happens if a team member deletes a relevant document and consigns it to the recycle bin? Fortunately, a file in the recycle bin can be retrieved. Most cloud storage recycle bins hold data for ninety days before purging them. 

12. Change file ownership 

When a team member creates a file, he or she is named “owner” of that file. With ownership comes “permission power” as to who else on the team can access or refine it. If determined that file ownership should change to another team member, the original owner (or someone else with the right system administration credentials) can make that change. 

Effective file sharing keeps a project moving forward. It’s often essential for small businesses that need to turn around documents and other types of files in a hurry—while maintaining accuracy and appropriate file ownership in mind.  

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Business Insights and Ideas does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. You should contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation..