SolidWorks has some very powerful tools for managing files references. I will try to explain this.
First, in Tools/Options/External references there is a check box for Check Referenced File locations. If that is not checked SW will use the information in the saved file to try to find referenced files. If that option is checked then SW will look in a directory(ies) specified in Tools/Options/FileLocations/References in the order listed there.
Second, when the option above is checked, SW will be forced to look first in the first and then in subsequent location in the References list. So even if you just saved to a different location SW will look first in the References list. Only if it doesn't find it there will it look at where you last saved it and if it doesn't find it there it will look in the last place windows looked for a file. This last behavior is a nasty wildcard for users.
So what you can do in SW is to have two Folder Trees, one for released work and one for work in progress. If they both have the same exact folder structure then whichever top level tree is first in the references list will force SW to look there first. SW can then be made to look first at work in progress and then in released work or vice versa just by changing the order of the folder trees in File/ References.