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Document Retention Policy
10 min read

Does Your Document Retention Policy Change With the Times?

It’s no surprise that with the hybrid work model’s growing popularity, more employees work remotely. For businesses, this opens you up to a larger pool of talent. Your employees can come from almost anywhere, which ultimately diversifies your company’s capacity for problem-solving. As your company culture shifts to a more remote-friendly and global perspective, so should your data retention policies. 

Your data retention policy should outline your company’s system for managing important documents. But in an age where businesses use different types of communication and collaboration tools, there are even more places for your data to hide. What does this mean for the way you construct these policies?

Document Retention at Your Business

Your business runs on the data in your documents — quarterly reports, contracts, product roadmaps, patent applications, communication plans, and more. Each document has a specific purpose in fulfilling the company’s mission and, as a result, hashave different shelf lives. 

Previously, documents would be stored in a shared company drive and specific approved apps only. But with apps like Slack, Zoom, and Sharepoint becoming more integral to the business tech stack, the means of tracking storing, and sharing these documents becomes more complex.

While these apps make internal communication more seamless in a hybrid environment, it can be a nightmare when it’s time to find all your documents and communications during litigation or a funding round. Part of figuring out how to create a comprehensive data retention plan is determining what types of documents you use, what you use them for, and how long you should keep them.

Reasons to Keep Data

The documents you keep around each serve different functions. 

  • Pending or ongoing litigation: Your company needs to maintain all records relating to specific litigation, including contracts, affidavits, declarations, or sworn testimony from relevant personnel.
  • Compliance: You need to keep some documentsThere are some documents that you need to keep to be able to prove compliance with regulations, like versions of your privacy policy or customer opt outs.
  • Distributing company knowledge: Especially for high-growth companies, the legacy knowledge tends to stay in the head of the founders and early employees. But in order to ensure your team understands the company and its mission, your company needs to maintain these documents for a length of time.
  • Onboarding: It would be a pain if someone had to train every new employee on every aspect of their job – from scratch. Keeping employee onboarding docs ensures that all new teammates get up to speed without tremendous lift from all existing employees. 

Each reason serves a different function in the business, which should determine how long you retain these documents and communications. This means being aware of the retention policies of the various tools you use.

Some Considerations for Your Data Retention Policies

Here are some things to consider when building your document retention policies:

  • What types of documents do you generate? Contracts, employee handbooks, and product roadmaps are some examples of common business documents.
  • How long will it be useful to the company? Documents like contracts will be useful indefinitely, but outdated roadmaps might have a shorter lifespan. 
  • When will you get rid of it? For the documents with a shorter lifespan, how will you know when it’s time to (digitally) shred them?
  • How and where is it stored? It’s important to know where all your documents are and how you can access them. As Slack and other third-party collaboration apps become the norm, your team needs to consider how the process might have changed.

Hidden Challenges of Document Retention on Third-Party Apps

To the uninitiated, the simple solution might  be to keep everything. Don’t delete any document that comes into the business. That way, if anyone needs anything, you’re positive you’ll have it. But how long will it take to locate those documents? Even worse, how long would it take to organize them in a way that makes sense for whatever you need them for? 

A few other issues you might want to think about:

Retention Timeline

How long will you keep specific documents? Even more, how will you know when it’s time to delete them?

When you consider the fact that Slack, for example, keeps all your files and data for as long as your workspace exists, regardless of its significance, you’ll realize how organizing and sifting through (and protecting) this data can easily become a nightmare. Is it worth clearing Slack every 90 days? That’s a discussion worth having. 

Cybersecurity CLM

Data Categorization

Because Slack doesn’t come with any innate way of organizing your documents, it can be difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for. 

For example: you know that a few months back you sent an important document in a channel, and you recently discovered that that deck is crucial to new litigation. But short of knowing the exact name of the file, which channel you dropped it in, or the exact date you shared it, how can you quickly and easily retrieve it?

Some messages can have multiple files attached. Unless your team has automated a way of categorizing your documents, it will be very tedious to comb through your workspace and find it again. At the end of the day, important documents shouldn’t be stored in Slack. Lack of context

Let’s say you do a file search and find the exact document you are looking for. Are you certain that this is the most up to date version of the file? Do you understand the context around the document? The context is just as important as the document itself.It can help you determine whether or not you’ve found the correct version of whatever you’re looking for. 


It’s important to know what documents your company generates, what they will be used for, and how long they should be stored. You also need to take modern communication technology into account when designing your policy. Typical discovery wasn’t conducted with tech in mind, but since tech is here to stay, it’s time to adapt. 

Learn how LinkSquares helps you keep track of all your important contracts and legal documents. Request a demo today.

Alyssa Verzino is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at LinkSquares.