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Working Remotely: A Guide to Maintaining Continuity

close up up of person using laptop for a video conference with four colleagues online

How to maintain continuity in your work when you can't be in the office or classroom

Both for routine and extraordinary events, it is helpful to be prepared to use technology tools that can help you stay connected with workplace operations and courses from a remote location. 

This guide offers useful resources for telecommuting and working remotely that are available to Virginia Tech students, faculty and staff, as well as planning guidance for departments and groups. We recommend that you stay in touch with your department IT support staff and your department leadership for guidance on best practices and resources for working remotely. 

Working remotely as a student or employee

If you need help while working remotely, 4help is here for you 24/7! Visit https://4help.vt.edu/ to browse our knowledge base articles, request a service, or submit a help ticket, or call 540-231-4357 for assistance.

Connecting from home
For most types of work—email, cloud apps, collaboration platforms—you should be able to connect through your regular home internet service, and can use your home computer (if it can connect to the internet) or a Virginia Tech issued laptop or tablet. Just navigate to the sites you need to use and log in using your VT Username and passphrase. Be ready to use 2-factor authentication to complete the login process.

Most Virginia Tech applications and service platforms such as email, G Suite, Office 365, Canvas, Zoom, Banner, etc. do not need to connect through a VPN (virtual private network).

If you don't have broadband internet at home
If you don't have internet at home, or if your connection speed is too slow to allow you to work the same way you would if you were at Virginia Tech, be sure to let your supervisor and co-workers know, and come up with a plan for how to keep collaboration flowing. You could connect periodically to send and receive email and files, share files through a removable 'thumb' drive, or use a cellular hotspot.

Connecting through a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
For some types of work, like if you are working in an application or service that can only be accessed through a Virginia Tech IP address, you might need to use the VPN, or Virtual Private Network. The VPN allows a user to appear as if they are logging in from within Virginia Tech's Network. If you require a VPN, it's a good idea to test the connection prior to starting remote work if possible. For more information:

Fees waived for call forwarding and configuration changes (effective 3/12/20)
Network Infrastructure & Services (NI&S) is currently waiving associated one-time fees for call forwarding and configuration changes required for Unified Messaging and the software client for voice services. Visit https://www.nis.vt.edu/ for more information or to request this service.

  • When working remotely, it is especially important to remain vigilant about data security. Make sure you are on the appropriate connection for each task; for example, use a VPN or other equally secure connection when handling sensitive or restricted data. Additionally, be aware of increased risk for phishing attempts. Check with your department IT support staff to make sure you are equipped to work safely while off campus.
  • Read Virginia Tech’s Alternate Work Site and Telework Policy

If you have a Virginia Tech issued laptop:

Planning for remote work within your department

To stay effective during events that necessitate telework, it’s important to make preparations, ideally before the disruption occurs. Within your department or group, you should:

  • Discuss how your group(s) will handle business disruptions 
  • Develop and document a communication plan that covers how your department or group will:
    • Provide important updates and information
    • Communicate during emergencies
    • Conduct routine collaboration on projects
  • In your communication plan, clarify which tools and platforms will be used for routing information. These could include:
    • Your departmental intranet or collaboration site
    • Email and Google groups
    • Videoconferencing for virtual meetings
    • Telephone Interactive Voice Response systems (for front desks and administrative offices)
    • Telephone features such as call forwarding, or software that lets you answer your office phone at home (One-time fees waived for call forwarding and configuration changes effective 3/12/20. Visit https://www.nis.vt.edu/ for more information.)
  • Assign responsibilities, and assemble a list that includes names and contact information (including personal phone numbers) for the people who are carrying out the plan
  • Share documentation of your plan within your group in a location where all members can easily access
  • Review your plan at least annually, updating contact lists and tools as appropriate
  • Make sure your group members are signed up for VT Alerts

Keep in mind that during a major disaster, some online services may not be available until they are recovered or restored.