My coworkers deleted a major project of mine - permanently

Post date: 2021-10-24 04:56:21
Views: 9
It seems like my coworkers have permanently deleted a major project of mine. What to do?

I work in the programming department of a cultural institution. One of my tasks is to create/revise school programs. I spent from March to June 2020 overhauling a very dated program that hadn't been reviewed since about the late 90s due to understaffing and other things being bumped up the priority list.

I completely changed the formatting of the doc, updated the content to be less focused on white settlers and include Indigenous knowledge/traditions, created extensive curriculum links and a list of teacher resources, printable chaperone instructions and materials for parents/chaperones, as well as several pre- and post-visit classroom activities.

The program had a section on global warming where students made a working model of an electric car, so I had it reviewed by the local environmental society, two Indigenous consultants, and the president of the electric car club so they could approve/tweak the exact wording. I'm not a STEM-y person, so I relied on them for knowledge/terminology. All said, this document was 50 pages of what I would say was 90% new content, including copy for our marketing department. It was fully approved and ready for implementation.

When we were WFH during Covid, we were told to save all documents exclusively to SharePoint. I was told specifically to not save anything to my laptop because it was not connected to the server and it would be some months before they could buy me a work one; it was my personal laptop. Our department got a memo from our director in April 2020 saying we weren't allowed to move/delete anything from SP without her permission.

I've been on medical leave since June but am returning to work in early November. I had a conversation with my director a week ago where she gave some high level updates on our department. One of them was that nobody could find this school program doc and this was a problem as we now need to think about how we're going to offer it to students starting in March. She asked if I could go on SP and find the files.

I realized once on SP that my coworkers had moved/deleted a lot of files - there was nothing with a timestamp older than this past June. I emailed them to ask where the program had gone. They sent me the SP link again saying that as far as they knew, nothing was missing. I started to realize in looking through SP that most of my work from last year was gone - I would say about 6 months worth of projects and files.

It turns out that my coworkers wanted to clean-up how the homepage of their SharePoint looked because there were too many inactive files on the home screen, so they tried to copy/merge a bunch of folders over to a new 2021 homepage but didn't really know how. It didn't work. Everything from 2020 bar a few stray folders was deleted. They did not have our director's go-ahead to do this as they believed to have the process in hand.

We have so far not been able to recover any files - it seems like our SP likely wasn't backing up anywhere, not even with our tech support company. The 93 day window in which it seems you can retrieve files from SP itself has passed for this one major project. I have checked the sent folder of my email to see if I ever sent it to anyone as an attachment - but I didn't. The size of the file made it so I always had to send the SP link, which now throws a 404 error.

So, my questions are:
- Does anyone fluent in SharePoint know of any other way we could possibly retrieve these files?

- I don't know what to say to my coworkers about this, if anything. One of them emailed me to apologize and I said something vague in response about ideas for how to recover the files. I don't think they fully understand the extent of what's been lost as most of the deleted files were A) my work and not theirs (they had work laptops from the get go so their files automatically saved to the server/Cloud) and B) applied to not currently active projects so it's not like these files are needed tomorrow or anything. They will most definitely be needed eventually, however.

- I just did 6 months of chemotherapy. I'm tired and emotionally depleted. I'm starting to get the feeling that if we can't find the original file, I will be the one asked to do all this work again. I know it's work and I'm there to do what my boss asks, but I don't have the wherewithal for redoing a project of that caliber on an accelerated timeline right now, especially as I'm only going back 3 days a week until the new year. I could use some scripts on how to navigate this conversation with my director if it comes up, please.

Thanks, MeFites! :)
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