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Guidelines for using technology when working remotely

Step 1: Be aware

Step 2: Be prepared

  • For school and unit management, identify if faculty and staff have access to the technology necessary to work remotely.
  • The purchase of additional resources to facilitate working remotely must be approved by school or unit leadership prior to purchase and should be tracked using the new guidelines.

Step 3: Communicate

For school and unit management, remember that you are a conduit between your employees and the university. While they are sure to receive regular updates from the university, the school or unit, faculty and staff will most likely rely on you to help them understand the implications of the event, especially items related to your school or unit operations and their responsibilities.

At each school/unit, ensure that a mechanism to communicate with faculty and staff exists and that everyone is aware of what the emergency communication method is.

Step 4: Ensuring access to necessary technology

The equipment and software that will be required for an employee to work from home will vary depending on each person’s job responsibilities. The information presented below is broken down by individual tasks that may be needed and discusses what would be required in those cases.

This information represents general needs and requirements. You should work with your local school or unit administrators to address any more specific technology required by your job duties and responsibilities.

Employees who are telecommuting will need some basic hardware and an Internet connection. The specific devices recommended are:

  • Computer: A laptop or desktop computer is recommended. A tablet can work in some cases but should be tested first to confirm.
  • Internet connectivity: Preferably a high-speed connection such as Comcast, FIOS, or Optimum. You may also use a wireless hotspot through your mobile provider.
  • Telephone: Mobile or landline phone, with long-distance service as necessary, that will allow you to communicate. university phones can be forwarded to these devices.

Meetings can be attended remotely by phone, but the following equipment will make it a better experience and allow for improved audio quality and video capability.

  • Microphone: This may be built into your device, but an external microphone or headset, if available, may provide better sound.
  • Webcam: Many computers have one built in, but you can easily connect an external USB camera if you have one available.

The above will allow for basic functions and provide access to items such as cloud-based software like Office 365 (Rutgers Connect), Cornerstone and the myRutgers portal.

Faculty and staff are also permitted to install Microsoft Office software on their home machines at no additional charge. Users can do this on their own by following these instructions. Installing this software will provide access to Microsoft OneDrive. Access to Box can be set up from home by following the instructions on the Rutgers Box site.

The equipment, software and services above will allow users to handle many of the tasks normally performed in the office.

Step 5: Utilizing technology

The biggest challenge to utilizing technology remotely is often the initial setup.

General advice

  • Communication is key. Decide on a mechanism (e.g. WebexMicrosoft Teams, etc.) that will allow for easier contact at a distance.
  • Adhere to all University policy in regard to data security.

Computing

  • While high-speed home internet has come a long way, it still can’t match the local Rutgers network. Be prepared for things to take a little longer, especially during times of peak usage.
  • Avoid storing information on home computers whenever possible. All users have access to both OneDrive and Box and may have access to other storage provided through their local IT group. Files should be stored in these services to guard against data loss and to provide appropriate security of University information.
  • Some units or departments may provide technology tools to allow staff members to “remote control” their office computers from home. When using a home machine to remote control an office computer, remember that the home system is simply a remote keyboard, mouse and screen. If you need to use a service, like Webex, exit remote control and then start Webex.  If you run Webex on your work machine, the camera and microphone on the work machine will be used, not the one connected to your home computer.

Telephones

  • Most university phone systems permit users to forward calls to outside lines. If a user would like to receive their office calls at home, this can be turned on. This can be setup through the handset (or in some cases, remotely) by following the instructions on the telecom site.
  • An alternative to forwarding all calls is allowing calls to go to voicemail and either retrieving them regularly or requesting that OIT configure your line to send voicemails to email. The voicemail to email option only works on some systems. Refer to instructions on the telecom site to request this service.
  • Unfortunately, there is no solution that would allow users to use their home or mobile phone to place outgoing calls using their Rutgers phone number. Users who do not want their personal number displayed to others can mask their home or mobile number by dialing *67 before placing an outgoing call. However, keep in mind that people are less likely to answer calls without CallerID information as your call will show up to them as “unknown caller.”

Printing

  • Since most printed documents are either filed or circulated, there is likely little need for printing, especially when most staff are working from home.
  • Microsoft Office and Windows 10 both can print to a PDF. By printing to a PDF, you can then email the PDF rather than printing out a physical copy.
  • Keep in mind that users who are remote controlling their computer should be careful when printing to ensure that they are able to print to their local printer (if available). In most cases, the printout will be sent to the printer in the office.
  • Units should consider turning off photocopiers and printers if no one will be in the office to both save power and guard against someone accidentally printing to the device from home.

Scanning

  • As with printing, the need to scan should be decreased if all documents are being dealt with electronically as people work from home.
  • If a scanner is required and the user doesn’t have a home scanner, users can take a picture of the item to be scanned with a mobile phone and email it to an email account. Some phones even have software that will clean up the image, so it looks more like a scan.

Faxing

  • There is currently no central service that would allow for faxes to be redirected from office fax machines to computers.
  • Users who need to receive faxes should request that the sender scan or photograph documents and email them instead.
  • If there is a need to use a fax machine for HIPAA-related reasons, please contact your local IT support for alternative ways to receive a document securely.