Remote Work Technology FAQs

Updated 03/30/2020

What are the best ways to access my Zoom meetings?

It is strongly recommended faculty, staff, and students download Zoom to laptop and/or cell phone for easy conferencing. Faculty and staff can also request Cisco Jabber for a laptop and/or cell. You can then dial into a Zoom meeting with one of the provided numbers. Visit the Cisco Jabber Learning Path for more information. Both of these methods incur no cost or charges form your providers. For both of these options, it is recommended that your device has a microphone and a camera.

If you have further questions or need assistance, you can find 24/7 support by contacting the IT Service Desk.

Can I call into Zoom using a landline?

You can, however, it is highly discouraged. This could result in long distance costs due to Zoom’s utilization of toll calls.

I do not have wireless internet access or a laptop. What should I do?

If you do not have access to a computer and/or the internet from your location, please log in to the IT service portal and fill out the Penn State Mobile Technology Request Form to formalize your computer/access request. University IT is continually working on availability of equipment and how to best distribute it.  Once there is more information for your request, you will be contacted via the phone number you provide in the request form.

If you have further questions or need assistance when you receive your equipment, you can find 24/7 support by contacting the IT Service Desk.

Individuals can also work with their wireless carriers to add additional data in order to use personal hotspots on their devices at no additional cost. AT&T, TMobile, and Verizon have information readily available on how to upgrade data.

Updated 03/25/2020

How can I connect to applications and access the collaborative tools I use to perform my normal work functions?   

You should test these functions remotely and you should be able to use your internet connection to access most of the Penn State services required for your daily work including LionPath, WorkLion, and Office 365.     

If you access certain services using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), you are likely already aware of that need and using the correct connections and profile to access these services. Examples of these connections are the ability to access certain Level 3/Level 4 data in an enclave, or use of the more common  ISPtoPSU  profile or LIASVPN profile. Your local IT staff will be most knowledgeable if you are having any issues accessing specific applications for your unit.      

Tip: Certain applications, such as SharePoint and Zoom, will not function correctly while using a VPN. When you have completed your access to the application that requires VPN connectivity, turn off your VPN connection so that others have available access to this limited resource.

Updated 03/19/2020

I need items such as headphone, Monitors, Keyboards, Mice, etc. Where do I go to acquire these items?

Items available are limited and may vary from unit to unit. Please contact your local IT office to request these items. Learn more about the ports and peripherals on your computer.

Updated 03/19/2020

How can I maintain cybersecurity while working remotely?

Penn State’s Office of Information Security (OIS) recommends following these ten guidelines to enhance cybersecurity:

  • Watch for phishing attempts. Penn State remains a high-value target for cyberattackers, especially during times of uncertainty. Be especially wary of emails that attempt to get you to share your password as a requirement for working remotely. Attackers will often try to exploit an existing relationship by posing as a person you know or trust (such as a colleague or supervisor) and by creating a sense of urgency. If you suspect an email is a phishing attempt, please forward the email as an attachment to phishing@psu.edu.
  • Keep work data on your work computer. It is always preferable to conduct Penn State business on Penn State-owned devices, but the University recognizes that this approach may not always be possible. If you must conduct Penn State business on your personal device, do not store Penn State data on that device.
  • Do not access information classified as Level 3 (“High”) or Level 4 (“Restricted”) under University Policy AD-95 on your personally owned device. Penn State-owned information assets are equipped with secure perimeters including Wi-Fi, VPN, encrypted drives, anti-virus, end-point protection, and active monitoring while on the Penn State network. Personal (non-Penn State owned) devices do not have this level of security and pose a higher level of risk.
  • Adequately protect your system. This includes activating and/or enabling anti-virus software, regularly updating your operating system, and enabling the firewall on your operating system. If you don’t have anti-virus software, you may visit downloads.its.psu.edu to review possible options.
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi. If necessary, use a personal hotspot. Public Wi-Fi can introduce significant security risks and should only be used if absolutely necessary.
  • Always keep your device with you. Never leave your device or laptop in your car unattended, and make sure your screen can’t be seen by those around you. Password protect your device, not just your Access Account.
  • Only use Penn State-approved video conferencing applications such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
  • Do not sync Penn State data/files to personally owned devices such as Box Sync. Rather, go to box.psu.edu to access your data/files.
  • When absolutely necessary, use the Penn State AnyConnect Virtual Private Network (VPN) software to create a secure connection from your device to Penn State. This helps to protect Penn State’s data and keeps you safe in the event you have to use public Wi-Fi or connect from your home network to access a remote file. You can download this software on your personal and Penn State-owned devices by visiting downloads.its.psu.edu and selecting Connecting to Penn State.
  • If you work with L3 or L4 information, consult your supervisor and OIS to ensure you can adequately access this data. Email security.psu.edu before attempting to access L3 or L4 data remotely. For more information about cybersecurity, or if you need additional guidance or support, please contact the Office of Information Security at security@psu.edu.

Updated 03/18/2020

What are best practices for preserving bandwidth while working remotely?

  • Turn off video unless necessary
  • If you can use a wired connection, opt for that – it will be more reliable.
  • If not, be as close to the wireless router as possible.
  • If possible, ask others who share your Internet service to limit their bandwidth consumption during your class session.
  • If you are using your computer or tablet to connect to class, turn the wireless off on your phone. You are likely consuming bandwidth without knowing it.
  • Your local provider (e.g. Comcast/xfiniti) may have advanced tools for managing devices connecting to your home network; please see their customer support pages for more information. In today’s connected environment, many “smart” appliances and devices consumer bandwidth without us giving it much thought. Disconnecting these devices for a short period may improve your class experience.

Other tips:

  • Mute your microphone.
  • Turn off sound notifications on your computer. It can be very distracting to hear email notifications while you are speaking.

Updated 03/17/2020

What should I do to prepare to work remotely?   

Take the following steps to be best prepared:

  • Update your contact information for your supervisor/team.  
  • Make sure you test remote access to all of the tools you currently use to perform your work duties.
  • Take home any non-confidential printed materials and your computer in the event you cannot access those items remotely. 
  • Consider forwarding your office phone to your remote location/cell phone if you need to receive work related phone calls.
  • Set up a regular meeting cadence with your project teams and working groups as daily or weekly check-ins help maintain productivity.
  • Use your normal working patterns and channels of team communications such as email, chat, or virtual meetings.
  • Ensure that you’ve identified a virtual venue where the team can meet in one area and communicate in real-time. Zoom meetings, Microsoft Teams, Box Notes, Google hangouts, or chat channels are all good options.
  • Update your service subscriptions at the  Service Status portal  (you must be logged in via WebAccess) to receive any technology degradation or outage notifications. 

Tip: Click the +/- in front of the name of the service in the Status History area to subscribe or unsubscribe to notifications for that service.  

What connectivity is needed to work remotely?  

If you do not have acceptable internet connectivity at your remote location, please work with your supervisor for alternative work assignments or options.  Due to availability, mobile hotspots will not be provided.  

Are there any access restrictions when using a personal device?

While you may use a personal device while teleworking, you will not be able to access information classified as Level 3 (“High”) or Level 4 (“Restricted”). Information in these classifications can only be accessed through Penn State equipment for security reasons. You must consult with OIS if you have a need to access level 3 or 4 information even on Penn State owned devices.

I need a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection to access these tools. How do I get one?  

A Virtual Private Network connection allows you to connect to the Penn State network remotely, and allows you to access certain resources. If you need to use the VPN, your first step is to visit  https://downloads.its.psu.edu  and select “Connecting to Penn State” to download and install the latest version of Cisco AnyConnect. You may need administrative access to your system(s) or desktop support to install the client.

Below are quick links to knowledge articles for supported operating systems:  

How can I receive my work-related phone calls while working remotely?  

There are a couple of options for you to consider, as you are working remotely.       

  • If you rarely receive phone calls (or only a few over the course of your work week), consider allowing the call to go to your voicemail. If you have opted to receive your voicemail sound files via your email, you can receive those messages in email and respond accordingly.  
  • If you often receive phone calls, the easiest way to ensure that you are available to answer them remotely will be to forward your office phone line to your home phone or cell phone. To forward your phone line, please visit this knowledge article (KB0011222). 

Tip: You will need to be logged in with WebAccess to make this change, and If you are setting this up from your remote location, you will need to use a VPN to get to the voice portal, using the  ISPtoPSU  profile.      

Can I continue to attend or facilitate meetings?  

Yes, and it will be important to rely on virtual meetings to continue normal business operations.

You should continue to use Zoom as a standard virtual meeting tool, and you may want to update your previously scheduled meetings to virtual meetings using Zoom.       

 In the event Zoom is unavailable or has performance issues, there are other alternatives to virtual meetings below. You can also take advantage of the associated mobile applications for these tools as needed.     

Tip:  You will need to be logged into  WebAccess  to use any of these virtual collaboration services. Turning off video will consume less bandwidth and may help your meeting room performance.  

I will be using a “loaner” laptop computer while I am remote.  How can I ensure that I can get to my important and current files that I need from my office computer?  

Your loaner laptop should be configured with everything you need to be able to get to the Penn State network and to the systems that you’ll need to access. If you have been engaged with your IT Desktop Support service to obtain the loaner, be sure to determine whether or not they were also able to transfer your data files to it. If you need assistance with your files, consult with your local IT staff.  

If you are unable to consult with your local IT staff before you begin to work remotely, you should consider using services such as  Box storage,  OneDrive, or  SharePoint  to store your work files while you are remote.  Upload any critical or current files that you may need to a new folder in the space that you select, so that you are able to access that material remotely.  

Tip: Using these services from your loaner means that you will also be able to access these files from your office computer, once you return from remote operation.  We often think of such services when collaborating across teams – but you can also think about these services as collaboration across your computer systems.  This solution does not replace the need to use an enclave for those materials, you will still need to use normal Level 3 and Level 4 system and data access.  

If you find that the operation of the loaner computer is not as familiar to you as your normal office computer, please visit the following knowledge article for additional assistance (KB0013413).    

I am responsible for answering a departmental phone for my unit, can I still forward this phone?  

If you are responsible for monitoring and answering more than one phone line, you may also forward that phone to your home or cell phone. If you work with others in your area to monitor those phone lines, you should consider and discuss how you and your team will be sharing the responsibility to answer them. A phone line can only be forwarded to one phone number. To forward a phone line, please read this knowledge article (KB0011222).       

What if I need to provide remote instruction?  

Teaching and Learning with Technology has compiled a comprehensive set of  resources  to help you continue teaching remotely.    

I am having a technology issue while working remotely, how can I get help?  

Please visit the  Help Request Portal  anytime you are having technology issues or questions.