sharepoint online – View All Uppermost Shared Folders

I’m not sure exactly how to describe what I’m looking to do, so this title may not be clear, and I may go overboard with the example, but here goes:

I’m currently looking to migrate my company’s files to SharePoint Online from another service we’ve been using for a few years (ShareFile from Citrix). The vast majority of our company files are shared with all employees, one or two folders are shared with all our clients, and there are a few folders that we share individually with each of our clients (monthly reports, day-to-day shared files, etc.) For client access with our current setup in ShareFile, we have clients login to the web interface, and they can see the highest level of all folders shared with them. Here’s an example of what some of our setup looks like:

  • Client Folders
    • Client 1
      • Client 1 Docs Shared (shared with Client 1)
      • Sign-on Info
    • Client 2
      • Client 2 Docs Shared (shared with Client 2)
      • Sign-on Info
  • Reports
    • Client 1 Month-end Reports (shared with Client 1)
      • August 2020 Reports (shared with Client 1 by inheritance)
      • July 2020 Reports (shared with Client 1 by inheritance)
      • etc.
    • Client 2 Month-end Reports (shared with Client 2)
      • August 2020 Reports (shared with Client 2 by inheritance)
      • July 2020 Reports (shared with Client 2 by inheritance)
      • etc.
  • Resources
    • In-house Resources
    • System Resources (shared with all clients)
    • Training Resources (shared with all clients)

So, in ShareFile, someone from Client 1 would login, and they would see the following folders:

  • Client 1 Docs Shared (the highest-level folder shared with them from “Client Folders,” even though it’s three levels deep)
  • Client 1 Month-end Reports (the highest-level folder shared with them from “Reports”—only this highest level folder shows, not all the shared subfolders)
  • System Resources (the highest-level folder shared with them from “Resources”)
  • Training Resources (another highest-level folder shared with them from “Resources”)

I figured it would be easy to replicate this in SharePoint Online, where we could just give clients a link to our main document library, and they would easily be able to see the folders within that are shared with them … but it’s turning out not to be easy at all.

We could give each client separate links to the folders that are shared with them, but that’s pretty messy and inconvenient, and I would like the clients to be able to view all their folders within a single document list so I can make it part of a communication site page that can act as a sort of landing page for our clients, where we can post news and give them login access to our primary software system, all in one place.

I’ve had a variety of ideas about how I might manage things, but I’m hesitant to completely rearrange our folder structure so that our staff isn’t confused, and a pure metadata approach isn’t going to fly because 1) many of both our staff and clients are just too entrenched in folder-style organization to handle this without me becoming a villain and 2) I want to use OneDrive to give File Explorer access to files rather than only web interface, and custom metadata doesn’t seem to be something that can flow through there.

So, I’m hoping someone might know a fairly straightforward way to provide the view like I described or have a better idea about how I can manage the situation.