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Welcome to our community, Ellen
You could be experiencing an issue very similar to one I literally moments ago finished assisting with.
If you are working in this manner you need to ensure everyone has the same pathing involved. For example, let's say you are working with two other individuals.
If you use the file path RoboHelp suggests, you will end up creating your projects in a folder named "My RoboHelp Projects" in your "My Documents" folder. That location is different for everyone. Your "My Documents" is not the same as Bob's will be.
I suggest creating a folder called "Projects" off your C drive. Call it "RoboHelp Projects" if you like. The point being that each individual should have the same folder structure. That way when you go to publish, you don't end up with RoboHelp trying to find a folder that doesn't exist.
If you do this, you need to configure your SSL so that it generates to C:\Projects\ProjectFolderNameHere\!SSL!\WebHelp\WebHelpStartPageName.htm.
Once you have done this things should operate much more smoothly.
What Rick says may solve the problem, in which case you can ignore this. But something you said concerns me a bit--"I returned it to our company's server directory. A co-worker copied it to his desktop, worked on it there, and then tried to compile."
Your coworker copied the compiled files to his desktop and worked on the compiled version of the file? This, and the fact that you said you don't have a CPD, makes me wonder if you just started working on the the project, and all you had to work with are the output files. If so, you have a different set of problems to solve.
Do you have an .xpj file you use to open your projects in RoboHelp?
As Rick says, just thinking aloud.