Flexible Working Resources
Modern technology has made it easier than ever to work from any location while using just about any device. Here are some quick tips for how to work efficiently and effectively from anywhere, at anytime.
- Faculty should also review: Flexible Teaching Resources
The cloud is your virtual office space
Most cloud-based software services don't care if you are on campus or off, or what kind of device you are using. Whether your home computer runs Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, or ChromeOS (Chromebook), you can access many of Western's technology tools easily as long as you have access to the internet. Many of Western's core systems are cloud based and mobile friendly.
Communicate and collaborate
Some departments have been upgraded to Teams Voice, while others are still using the older telephones on the legacy PBX system. If you don't know which type of phone you have, contact Telecom at 360-650-3600.
If you have been upgraded to Teams Voice, you can simply install the free Microsoft Teams for iOS or Android app on your smartphone and your business phone number will also ring on your mobile phone (this feature can be disabled at any time by signing out of the app, but you can also set "quiet hours" in the app settings).
- There are also Teams desktop clients available for Windows and macOS, but you will need a microphone and speakers/headphones to dial or receive voice calls.
If you use one of the older PBX phones, view the instructions for forwarding your phone to another number. Microsoft Teams also supports real-time chat and online meetings. You can use Teams for text and video conferencing even if you still use an older PBX phone for voice.
Text, talk, or video conference using Microsoft Teams
Voicemail instructions for PBX phones
Teams is a fairly recent addition to the Office 365 suite, and it has quickly become a successful go-to application for group chat, one-to-one chat, video-conferencing with screen sharing, file sharing, and any other collaboration need. Teams is like a virtual office. You and your colleagues can chat about work in real-time, share files and task lists, and easily fire up a voice or video conference that allows you to share screens, a digital whiteboard, and more! You can simply click the "Meet Now" button from any chat, or schedule an online meeting for later.
Get Started with Microsoft Teams
If you and your colleagues have not yet joined a Microsoft Team, Zoom is another option for online meetings. Zoom's biggest advantage is that it is already integrated with Canvas, and it's the easiest option if you are meeting with people who are not Western students, faculty, or staff.
Web Conferencing with Zoom
Can't decide which tool you should use for online meetings (video conferencing)? The following article will help:
Online Meetings - Should you use Teams or Zoom?
All of our online meeting options allow you to communicate using chat, voice, and video. They also have features that let you share screens and whiteboards. While video works well from on campus, when you are off campus it may depend on your internet connection. If you experience any issues with audio or video, or the application hangs, we recommend turning off your video camera and joining with voice only.
- Remember that you can join meetings from your smartphone. If you have a wired or wireless headset/earbuds with a built in microphone for your smartphone, that might provide a better audio experience than your computer's microphone and speaker. It's always a good idea to test your audio and video capabilities before you need them. You can join audio (or even video) with your phone, and join the meeting from your computer (without audio and video) simultaneously.
Work on your files
File storage at Western can be broken down into two basic types: Network shares and cloud storage.
Network shares include the P: Drive, U: Drive, and S: Drive. This is legacy storage has multiple limitations and disadvantages:
- Storage capacity is limited
- Network shares are not accessible from most mobile device apps
- Files cannot be shared from the U: Drive, and files on other shares are restricted to members of centrally managed security groups.
- Network shares are not easily accessed from off-campus. You must request VPN access, install the VPN client, follow the instructions for mapping your network drive on a Windows or macOS computer, and then remember to connect to VPN anytime you need to access the files on the network share. Given the limited number of VPN connections, it's also possible that you will not be able to connect if all available connections are in use.
Cloud storage has many advantages over network shares:
- More storage capacity than most individuals or departments could ever need. Individual OneDrives, SharePoint sites, and Teams have 1 terabyte of storage, and in special cases this can even be increased.
- Files are easily accessible from any location using just about any device. OneDrive and Google Drive both have available mobile apps for iOS and Android, and files can be accessed directly from the Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote apps.
- Files stored in your personal OneDrive or Google Drive can be shared with anyone inside or outside of Western. Files stored in Office 365 groups, Microsoft Teams, and SharePoint can be easily shared as well... but the owners of these shared resources may decide to restrict sharing.
- Cloud storage does not require VPN. You can access Office 365 and Google Drive from any location.
- Files stored in the cloud can often be worked on by multiple people simultaneously (both Office 365 and Google Drive files), and it's possible to restore previous versions of files in most cases.
Moving from the U: Drive to OneDrive is easy. Moving an entire department from the P: Drive to a shared cloud resource like SharePoint is a project ATUS can provide assistance and guidance on. Even if that may be a project for the future, it's easy for departments to get started with Microsoft Teams. The sooner your department starts saving new files to the cloud, the easier it will be to migrate P: Drive files at a later date.
Remember that departmental files should be stored in a shared location like a Microsoft Team or SharePoint. While you can share files with anyone from OneDrive, files that have long-term value to your department should always be saved to a shared location.
View our recommendations for file storage, file sharing, and backups
Working from home creates many challenges, one of which is how to keep your data, identity, and computer secure. If you have a university-owned computer, please connect to the university's network via VPN for a 1-2 hour period every week to get updates and patches. Here are some additional tips on creating a secure home computing environment, provided by the SANS Institute.
What if the files I need are stored on a network share like the P: Drive or my U: Drive?
Connect to VPN and map a network drive to the share you need.
What about Banner and other administrative applications?
Request access to administrative applications over VPN
After your administrative VPN access has been approved, follow our standard VPN instructions to connect to VPN before you attempt to access Banner or other administrative applications.
What's the best way to have an online meeting?
If you are meeting with a group that uses Microsoft Teams, simply click the "Meet Now" button in a team chat, or schedule a future Teams meeting.
Zoom is integrated with Canvas, and may be the easiest solution for meetings that involve students in a particular Canvas course.
Is cloud storage safe and secure?
Cloud storage is safe and secure as long as you understand who you are sharing files with. View our Cloud Storage Guidelines for Sensitive Data
Can I bring my office computer or other equipment and furniture home?
Yes, but please review our guidelines for taking your computer and other supplies home with you. Make sure you communicate with your supervisor or department head.
- New computers should never be shipped directly to your home. They should always be delivered to ATUS or your departmental IT staff to make sure they are properly configured. If you already have a new computer that needs to be configured, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for service.
What if I have issues with my home internet connection or WiFi?
View our tips for improving your internet connectivity: Keep Connected