Is your Coworker Online Stalking You?

By Emma Crameri Emma Crameri has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
on 16 February 2023

Did you know that your coworkers can stalk you when you access and update shared documents in the cloud? 

While working collaboratively on a Microsoft Word document, a co-worker’s profile icon popped up. So I retreated and closed the document.

I decided to open another word document to work on. Within seconds she was in the same document. I did this a couple of times, and each time she closely followed my actions. So I gave up and worked on a different section. I felt a little bewildered, and I wondered how the person was doing it.

Over the weeks, it happened a couple more times and I dismissed it as a coincidence. We were supposed to be working collaboratively. 

One day, the behaviour intensified. She closely followed my movements opening a number of documents in the space of several minutes. The behaviour was intimidating. 

I mentioned it to someone else on the team, and started my story with “I don’t know if you’ll believe me”. I wasn’t sure what would motivate someone to resort to sneaky behaviour like this. The person was sitting only a couple of metres away from me. They could have easily come over and had a conversation if there were any issues. 

I don’t mind my manager keeping an eye on work and activities on my work computer. But a coworker overlooking my shoulder and viewing every keystroke in real time felt weird and creepy. 

Word Document Editing Modes

With most word editing documents you can change the editing mode settings: 

  • Editing – edit documents directly
  • Suggesting – edits become suggests. These are usually colour coded and marked with your name
  • Viewing – edits are locked. You can only read or print the final document. This is ideal when copy requires going through an approval process. 

In Microsoft Word, you can track changes, lock changes and accept or reject suggestions from other staff members. 

Version History Pane

In addition, Microsoft 365 has a Version History Pane for any documents stored on OneDrive or SharePoint. The version history pane shows you when your file has been saved, and by whom. You can open and revert to older versions if needed.

Document Edit Notifications

Lastly, you can receive notifications right within Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or Excel, when coworkers you’ve shared your file with make changes, edits, comments, etc. 

You can turn on an alert in the Windows Action Centre or the Notification Centre, depending on your operating system and device. 

You can turn on email notifications in OneDrive when people make changes to your shared files by default.

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