Vassar Employee Guide to Teleworking

Computing and Information Services • Vassar College

Last updated April 1 at 4:00pm

If the need to telework (e.g., work remotely) arises, you will find below, the information and technology you need to create a successful remote environment to ensure you can stay connected to colleagues to keep Vassar running smoothly.

Important Updates | Week of 3/30/2020

  • How to Sign Documents Electronically

    • To learn how to sign your documents electronically with Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, click here.

  • April 1 is the Beginning of Earth Month

    • To access Vassar College's Earth Month 2020 site, click here.

  • How to Protect Your Zoom Meeting

    • While Zoom is an great tool for teleworking, there have been reports of a practice called "Zoom Bombing", where an uninvited - and often devious - guest shows up and posts inappropriate content in the chat window or on video. If you are concerned about the security and privacy of your meetings, follow the guidance here.

  • Updating Zoom

    • A security vulnerability was recently identified in Zoom, which could allow a cybercriminal to obtain a user’s credentials. Fortunately, Zoom fixed this flaw shortly after it was discovered. However, it requires that every user take action to make sure Zoom is updated. To update your Zoom, please follow the instructions given here.

Essential Apps & Services

Already know what you need? Need additional help and info? Read on for more about required and recommended software and hardware, best practices, and FAQs.

The Basics of Teleworking

This section covers the basic technical equipment and access most Vassar College employees need to telework. Certain jobs may require specialized hardware, software, or access. If in doubt, consult your supervisor.

A Stable Internet Connection

You'll need to have an internet connection that is stable and fast enough to support Vassar Zoom video meetings, email, chat, file editing in Vassar Google Drive, and other day-to-day work tasks. A good way to test your ability to conduct a Zoom meeting is by joining a test Zoom meeting from your telework location. You may also test your speed here. 10-20 Mbps upload and download speeds are considered fast enough for typical work activities. Please keep in mind that other devices on your network will impact your speed (e.g., if a family member is streaming Netflix or playing online games).

If you do not have an adequate internet connection, talk to your supervisor.

A Telework-Ready Computer

To work successfully from off-campus, you'll need a reasonably recent computer (defined below) and operating system to ensure software compatibility and security protections. Tablets and cell phones can be useful as supplementary equipment, but they are not adequate standalone equipment for working remotely.

  • If you have a Vassar-issued computer: Test it at home before you need to telework.

  • If you plan to use your personal computer: Ensure that it meets the requirements outlined in this solution.

  • If you do not have a Vassar-issued computer or personal computer: Talk to your supervisor.

Please see the FAQs below for more information.

Productivity Tools

Most or all of the services you access for your work at Vassar will function normally from a remote location, as many are browser-based or web-based applications.

Recommended productivity tools include: Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Hangouts and Zoom video and audio conferencing, all of which you should keep open and ready to use throughout the day.

A full-list of Vassar IT services can be found in our service portal.

You can find self-help for many Vassar Services as well as quick access to submit a request to the service desk at servicedesk.vassar.edu.


A Secure Environment

To protect your data and Vassar's network, you must install or have access to each of these security and productivity tools and services and use them whenever you telework:

  • Security features: To find the security features and systems that you need to keep your computer safe and protected, see this solution.

  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA): MFA is recommended for Vassar employees when logging into Vassar's online services. You'll need your Vassar username and password to login. Ensure you are able to access MFA via push notification, phone call, or Duo passcode. (Duo Mobile App recommended.) Note: If your default MFA device is your office phone, change it to the Duo Mobile App or another method since you won't have access to your office.

  • VPN: Some Vassar services might require the use use of VPN

Preparing to Telework

Prepare tools you'll need, such as Zoom and Hangouts

Zoom is a video conferencing platform that provides video communicating through an easy, reliable cloud platform. It allows you to video and audio conference, collaborate and chat across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and room systems. It can be accessed from any web browser.

With a security vulnerability recently identified in Zoom, we are requiring that every user take action to make sure Zoom is always updated. To update your Zoom, please follow the instructions given here.

  • To learn how to access your Zoom account and schedule your first Zoom meeting, click here.

  • To get the Zoom for GSuite extension, click here. To learn how to install Zoom for GSuite extension, click here.

  • You can also install the Zoom Scheduler for Google Calendar extension to easily be able to add zoom information to new and existing meetings. To learn how to install Zoom Scheduler, click here.

  • How to Protect Your Zoom Meeting: While Zoom is an great tool for teleworking, there have been reports of a practice called "Zoom Bombing", where an uninvited - and often devious - guest shows up and posts inappropriate content in the chat window or on video. If you are concerned about the security and privacy of your meetings, follow the guidance here.

  • Need more assistance? For a recorded video training session run by Chad Fust on how to use Zoom, click here.

  • Keep in mind that supporting academics is central to our mission and faculty will be using Zoom for distance teaching. Please limit Zoom meetings during the heaviest class times, from 10AM - 2PM to conserve bandwidth.

Google Hangouts is a communications app that provides teams with one-to-one direct messaging and group messaging to share ideas, discuss Google Drive documents, interact with connected apps, and have quick conversations with coworkers. Different from Hangouts Meet, which offers similar video conferencing capabilities to Zoom, Hangouts is technology available via your Gmail browser window, computer client or mobile app.

  • To install the Google Hangouts Chrome extension, click here.

  • To learn how to access Hangouts in your email window or through the Chrome extension click here.

Ensure that your personal computer is updated and secure

When working from home using your personal computer, take a few minutes to confirm your system is up-to-date and protected. If you work with restricted data, you should never store restricted data on your personal computer. If you don’t have a Vassar-provided laptop, you’ll need to take extra steps to make sure your work stays secure.

For tips on securing your personal computer, click here.

Gather everything that you will need to be productive from home

Think about calling into meetings or video conferencing: does your computer have a built-in microphone and speaker? Do you need a headset for your phone? Have these things been tested?

Don’t forget any important work files or other equipment, like power adapters, that you’ll need to bring home from the office

Set-up your Vassar phone & voicemail for access from home

You can have your voicemails delivered by email. Once configured, you will receive an email with an attached sound file whenever someone leaves a voicemail on your line.

You can also forward your work phone to your home or mobile phone. You should do this from your office phone before you leave campus.

To confirm which phone you currently have, and the proper way to set up call forwarding, see this solution.

Store files you will need using a file storage solution that can be accessed remotely

If you save your files in your Google Drive, you can always access the latest version of your files no matter where you’re located as long as you’re connected to the internet. It is important to know, that just because a file is not necessarily a Google file (docs, sheets, slides, etc.) it can still be held and stored in your Google Drive for accessibility.

  • To learn how to upload your files to your Google Drive, click here.

  • Note: You should never store files containing restricted data on Google Drive. For information regarding file storage, click here. For example, you may use winfile to store and share files containing regulated data.

Ensure that your emergency contact information is up to date

To ensure that you are getting the most up to date information, please confirm or update your emergency contact information here.

Set away messages and working hours

When teleworking, set your voicemail or email away message to reflect the current situation. An example message may be:

  • "Hello, you have reached _________ at Vassar College. Due to the spread of COVID-19, Vassar has enacted its teleworking program to ensure the safety and well being of the campus and surrounding community.Though away from campus, I am actively working. Voicemails are being forwarded, and you can also reach me via email at ________________. Thank you for your assistance, and I will be in touch soon."

If you are ill, and will not be working for a duration of time, set your email vacation responder/away message so contacts can expect to hear from you.

  • Learn how to set a vacation responder here.

When you are teleworking, set your working hours on your Google Calendar so coworkers know when to reach you

  • Learn how to set working hours here.


Accessing your computer at home

In order to connect to your office computer from home, see this solution. It will give you guidelines on how to connect, as well as how to turn sleep off your computer to ensure smooth connection.

Teleworking Tips & Etiquette

BE PREPARED

  • Do your homework: Read through this site, follow prompts, and have everything prepared so you can be comfortable and confident with teleworking. Contact the Service Desk at servicedesk@vassar.edu if you have questions or need assistance.

  • Learn about working remotely: Teleworking can be intimidating at first, but with these tips, you'll be feeling comfortable in no time. Click here to view the LinkedIn Learning curriculum on tips and tricks to working remotely.

BE CONSIDERATE

  • Stay connected: Remain logged into your calendar, Google Hangouts, Zoom and check your Vassar Email frequently for urgent matters.

  • Use shared drives: Create shared Google Drives for use with your teams as an easy way for everyone to have access to what they need when they need it.

  • Respond promptly: Remember when working remotely, your colleagues can't pop-in to ask a question or resolve an issue. Respond to emails promptly and get your group on Google Hangouts for quick discussions. Learn more about Google Hangouts in the Prepare tools you'll need, such as Zoom and Hangouts section above.

  • Meet effectively: Audio and video meetings are a little different than in-person meetings. Don't forget to acknowledge people who are joined into meetings remotely, stay muted if you are typing, turn on your camera if possible and keep your work area neat.

  • Conserve resources: Vassar's network is a shared resource, and usage will be higher than usual during a state of emergency. Avoid using the Vassar network for anything besides work.

  • Share with other teleworkers: Do you have some tips and tricks for optimizing our telework experience? Share and collaborate with other Vassar employees at facebook.vassar.edu!

BE RESPONSIBLE

  • Update your devices: Updates address identified security vulnerabilities, some which may be active exploits. Be sure to install available updates to your device's operating system, applications, browsers and browser extensions.

  • We recommend the following actions to keep your information secure and to assist the community in staying safe from online threats:

  • Report all suspicious emails, websites, or phone calls to catchoftheday@vassar.edu

  • Review our recommendations for safe computing. Remember, you can apply these to all of your devices.

  • Always check the “From” address and “Reply-to” address on all emails you receive. Be mindful of checking mail on mobile devices–tap on the sender’s name and their details to ensure the from address is valid

  • Before you click, stop and think! Many malicious links are spread via social media. Think twice before clicking on links, especially if they are not easily traced to official organizations

  • We recommend using multi-factor authentication (MFA) on your Vassar and non-Vassar accounts, wherever it is offered. If criminals do obtain your credentials, it provides an extra layer of security. Find out more at https://servicedesk.vassar.edu/solutions/571021-vassarone-setting-up-multi-factor-authentication-with-duo.portal

  • If you receive a suspicious phone call, ask the caller where they are calling from, and tell them you will hang up and call them back at their company’s official number.

  • Work responsibly: The same IT policies apply whether you are working in the office or at home. If you need to reference IT policies, they can be found here.

  • Use VPN, as needed: Though not required, you can use VPN for sensitive work to ensure the same secure working environment from the comfort of your home.

  • Avoid public Wi-Fi: When teleworking, it's best to use a secure, password-protected wired or wireless network. If you must use a public or unsecured network, you must use VPN.

  • Don't Overshare: When sharing your screen in a virtual meeting, you should choose to share ONLY the window you'd like to share and not your entire desktop to avoid allowing participants to see things they weren't meant to see or be interrupted by chat or calendar notifications. Some computers also allow you to turn on Do Not Disturb. This is a good practice when screen sharing or presenting.

FAQ

Are the resources on this site available to all employees?

Yes. Any employee is encouraged to take advantage of the resources on this site and to reach out to the Service Desk help is needed. Contact the Service Desk at servicedesk@vassar.edu or (845) 437-7224.

How can I optimize my Zoom experience?

One way to optimize your group's Zoom experience is to have participants call in via phone instead of using their computer audio. It is also helpful to quit unnecessary applications that may slow down connection.

How do I know if my computer at home will support the work I need to do?

To find if your home computer will fit your working needs, see this solution.

If your computer is not fit, please contact your supervisor.

Can I upload any files to Google Drive?

You can upload any files that don't contains restricted data to Google Drive and access those files from anywhere. Consult the file-sharing recommendations for more information.

Are there any offers available for employees in this trying time?

Adobe Creative Cloud is offering temporary at-home access for impacted students, educators and employees through 5/31/2020. To access, click here.

  • When signing in, use your @vassar.edu email

  • If prompted, select Company or School Account and then enter your password. Or provide your credentials in your school’s login screen.

  • From the Creative Cloud website, browse for and download your desired app. Click Apps on the top of the page to view all apps.

Do I need to use VPN?

Though not required, you can use a VPN for sensitive work to ensure the same secure working environment from the comfort of your home. If you are unsure whether you should be using VPN or require assistance using VPN, please contact the Service Desk at servicedesk@vassar.edu or (845) 437-7224.

Will all IT services be available if the college switches to telework?

All services that you can access from your computer from home will be accessible. IT staff are able to provide support remotely, however, some in-person services may be unavailable including but not limited to: desk-side support, innovation lab, classroom A/V operation, and poster printing.

Can I remotely connect to my office computer from home?

In order to remotely connect to your office computer from home, see this solution.

I forgot to forward my phone before leaving campus. Can I still forward it?

If you forgot to forward your phone or change your voicemail before leaving campus, you may be able to manage these settings remotely here [you must first connect via VPN] by logging in with your Vassar User Name and Password. If you can't login, email the Service Desk at servicedesk@vassar.edu with the subject line Forward Phone. Please include your extension and the issue you are having.

I am not sure if I'm allowed to work from home, what should I do?

If you are unsure whether you can or should work from home, unsure how to approach my supervisor to ask or unsure whether your work is considered essential please contact Candice West in Human Resources at cawest@vassar.edu.

Do I need to fill out an HR form to work from home?

No. If you are planning to participate in telework, discuss the teleworking option with your supervisor and, if approved, your supervisor will email their approval to both humanresources@vassar.edu and servicedesk@vassar.edu, along with any technology needs that have been identified. If you need to take your work computer home with you, please see the process for doing so below.

What should I do in the event I will need to take time off?

If you need to take time off because you or a family member has a medical need, there are forms to be completed. Please refer to the following memo from HR, click here.

Can I take my office computer home?

If you do not have another way to work remotely and feel confident you can hook-up your office computer at home, email your supervisor for permission. When approved, forward the email to servicedesk@vassar.edu with a subject line including the words Asset Tag followed by the number on your computer's asset tag. (The asset tag is a metal tag on your computer that reads Vassar CIS and includes a 6-digit numb and a barcode.) This will enable us to keep inventory of any computers that leave campus. By doing so, your supervisor is accepting the risk that, in the event of damage to the equipment, your department's budget will be charged for repair or replacement.

I'm a supervisor. How can I best manage my team remotely?

To view the Best Practices for Managing Remote Workers created by Human Resources, click here.

How to I get a position posted while teleworking?

Forward the position description, along with an email approval from your senior officer to Emily Conklin at econklin@vassar.edu.

How can I process a new hire remotely?

Please complete our digital status change form at go.vassar.edu/statuschangeform

How can I process a promotion, transfer, or additional job for one of my employees remotely?

Please complete our digital status change form at go.vassar.edu/statuschangeform

How do I sign and date a document electronically?

To learn how to sign your documents electronically with Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, click here.

What if I have a Fidelity, TIAA or pension form that needs signing?

Email Leslie Power at lepower@vassar.edu; although the plan vendors send forms, they also route loan and withdrawal approvals online.

How do I remain sustainable while working at home?

    • To access Vassar College's Earth Month 2020 site, click here.