Research tells us, 75% of employees value workplace collaboration, and part of the reason for that might be because it makes us more effective. Interestingly, people who work in a collaborative environment are also 50% more effective at completing tasks than those working independently. Easy delegation, quicker feedback and allround support by the click of a share button, helps us to ultimately perform better and thereby feel happier.

Not only do we enjoy and thrive in collaboration - it also drives a competitive advantage for organizations. Companies who collaborate are 30% more innovative than those who do not and studies have shown that companies who promote collaboration perform five times better than those who do not. 

Clearly, collaboration is more important than ever for productivity in the workplace and as an added benefit, it also helps our companies be more competitive. But with that, is an added concern: where does our data go and who has access to it? Organizations mitigate, set up rules, write policies, and end up with bad user experiences. There needs to be a balance, where security and compliance can co-exist with productivity to enable more business. It’s all about fostering a work environment that allows free collaboration these days and we need to make a decision on how to mitigate the related risks.

With great collaboration comes great responsibility 

Collaboration through file sharing has cemented itself in our way of working, leaving some organizations concerned about all the data that is being created, accessed and shared. It’s important to note though, that file sharing isn’t the problem. What truly represents a big risk is not managing external access to your files. 

Mitigating the risks is a big responsibility, but an important one if you want to foster secure external collaboration. A great first step is to be aware of the main risks. The top five include security vulnerabilities, data leaks and breaches, data loss and (un)governance, employee data theft and privacy issues. We have an extensive blog post dedicated to these five risks, which you can read right here.  

How to practice responsible file sharing

Now you know that file sharing is here to stay and that you should take the responsibility of managing external access seriously. But how do you actually go about external collaboration in a responsible way? The good news is that you’re not short of options! There are several ways you can mitigate some of the risks.

  • Block and restrict access to selected groups, which gives you control of access to your file. However, people always find ways to share, if they really want to. From private accounts or by downloading and emailing - sharing will find a way. Shadow IT leaves you with no control and restricting employees might just invite such a practice.  
  • Set up link expirations. It gives a sense of security, but it leaves room for human errors and makes for a bad user experience. Users might forget to set an expiration date and, even if they remember, they might forget when the access is expiring and you will see re-requests for access popping up. This makes for a process where IT still has to make sure that end users comply.
  • Creating portals and separate channels is also an option, but you would need to be very much on top of what is being shared and trust that no one will share anything by accident. As we are dealing with a human factor that leaves room for error, this is a risky option. You would need a lot of manpower for auditing and data hygiene, to make it work for you.

Set yourself up for successful collaboration

To summarize: Collaboration through file sharing is here to stay! It makes for happier and more productive employees, which in turn creates value and business growth. File sharing is great and we need to keep up with an ever-growing hybrid workforce. It does come with risks, but they can be mitigated in various ways.

A common factor to be aware of is human errors, which accounts for one of the biggest risks. As more sensitive data gets stored on the cloud, organizations must equip themselves with the right policies and technologies for detecting, protecting, and responding to any data exposure or unauthorized shared files.

Tricent gives you 100% control of your shared files in Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. And as an official Microsoft and Google partner, our tool meets their highest security standards. Get your free trial at

If you want to dive deeper into the topic of data governance, we have written an extensive ebook on the topic. Simply fill in your details below for access.