Preparation for working remotely

​In the event that you had to work remotely with little notice or for an extended duration of time, planning ahead for your technology needs can help minimize disruptions to your work and your office's operations. This page is intended to provide information that should help most staff members at CMU prepare for such a situation.

Essential apps and services

If you already know what you need, simply use these links to jump straight to information and downloads for the most essential services for working remotely. If you need additional help or information, or you’re just looking for some guidance, check out our Tech-readiness Checklist below for more information.

Tech-readiness Checklist

This section covers the basics of making sure that you have the proper computer setup and access most CMU employees need in order to work remotely. Certain jobs may require specialized hardware, software, or access that isn’t included here. This information is intended to address the needs of most staff members at CMU. If you have specific needs that aren’t covered here, or if you have any doubts about whether you need to make additional preparations, please contact your supervisor.

Setup your computer to work remotely

Do you have a CMU laptop? If so, you should make sure that you set aside the charging cords and any accessories you might need to work effectively from home, such as a mouse, keyboard, headset, or other specialized peripherals. You should also take a moment to look through Software Center (Windows) or Managed Software Center (Mac) to make sure you have installed the software you need and that it is up to date.

Don’t have a CMU laptop? If not, you may be able to work effectively from your personal machine. Consider the software that you use to accomplish your regular tasks and take inventory of what those software programs are. Where software licensing permits, you might find it more convenient to install those programs at home and work from your personal computer.

Strongly consider having a webcam and microphone or headset. You’ll find recommendations below for using Cisco Webex or Microsoft Teams to get in touch with your colleagues, make calls, or hold meetings. Your experience using Webex or Teams will be significantly improved by having a headset available to use on your computer. In most cases, a wired headset using a 3.5mm jack (i.e., aux input) is more than sufficient, and many people have an old set of earbuds with a built-in microphone lying around. Others may wish to use a Bluetooth-capable headset for added flexibility.

Try to have adapters on hand. If you’re stuck at home, it’s often beneficial to have the necessary adapters to add a second monitor to your computer. If you have a spare monitor at home, take a look at the ports on the back to see what kinds of connections are necessary. Then identify the video-out ports on your computer. If possible, try to have an adapter or two on hand that can link the two together. Similarly, if you have a video cable that works on one side but not the other, you can find adapters for those as well.

Setup your computer with recommended productivity services

Most or all services you access will function normally from a remote location as long as you have an active internet connection and an active Global ID. Some additional considerations are required if you want to use your personal computer. We specifically recommend making sure you have access to the following services: Microsoft Office, Email, OneDrive, Teams, and Webex.

Install Office at home. If you haven’t already, you should install Office on your home computer. We think this is good advice under any circumstances; It’s a standard software suite that most people need, and being able to install it for free is a nice perk of being a CMU employee. On top of that, if you find yourself suddenly unable to access your work computer, you know that you have access to your email through Outlook, and you can open any Office-specific documents you might need.

Install Outlook on your computer. If you install and activate Office as described above, Outlook will already be installed on your computer. Depending on how you activated it, Outlook might be configured already. If not, you will be asked to enter your email address. Entering your CMU email address will bring you to CMU’s familiar login screen. Once you login there, Outlook will automatically configure itself and begin syncing your mail.

Access to software not listed here. If you require access to software not listed here, whether it’s specific to your job or requires special licensing, please contact the OIT Help Desk. We’ll put in a ticket to your local technicians, and they will consult with you on the best way to make sure that you are able to access the specialized software you need.

Setup access to CMU’s Virtual Private Network (VPN)

CMU uses Virtual Private Network (VPN) to allow access to on-campus resources from off-campus locations. In essence, VPN software makes it seem like you’re on campus.

Most of your work can probably be done without requiring a VPN connection. However, services like SAP and departmental shared drive access require a VPN connection to prevent unauthorized access from outside of campus. This is a security measure to safeguard CMU’s data.

Your work computer probably has this installed already, but you can install VPN on any computer, including your personal computer:

Best practices

Make sure your files are available. If your work files only exist on your CMU computer, consider how you would continue working if you were unable to access work computer. Would you be able to get to the files you need to keep working? Most of these challenges can be avoided simply by making sure that all of your work folders are synced to OneDrive, where you can access them from the cloud anywhere you have an internet connection.

Start scheduling your meetings in Webex. Webex is CMU’s official online meeting platform. Many people are already using Webex, even replacing in-person meetings simply for convenience. You already have access to Webex by virtue of being a CMU employee, and you can schedule meetings right now through Webex’s web interface. Find out more in the comprehensive Webex category of our Knowledge Base.

Use Teams to keep in touch with your colleagues. Microsoft Teams is both an individual chat client (like Skype) and a way to organize groups for conversations, file sharing, and much more (like Slack). Everyone at CMU has the ability to install the Teams client and even to create and manage membership for their own Team. In the case of an extended closure, you might consider creating a Team for your office, where you can drop files important for your office to keep running, hold a Team-wide chat room for office conversations, or quickly jump onto a voice or video call with the whole Team or select individuals. Find out more in the comprehensive Teams category of our Knowledge Base.

Use your computer as your office phone. Jabber is a Cisco program that you can install on your computer. It works a lot like Skype for chat and video, but on top of that, it has the capability of making and receiving calls from your CMU phone number if enabled. The feature to use Jabber as a phone isn’t enabled by default but can be requested through the Telecom Service Center at (989) 774-3091.

Find more about getting started with Jabber or how to use Jabber to make phone calls from your computer.

NOTE: OIT is waiving new service fees related to using the Jabber "soft phone" during the university's ongoing coronavirus response.

Other technology considerations

Forward your office phone. While not enabled by default, it is possible to unlock the ability to forward your office phone to another number, such as to your cell phone or a home land line if you need to receive calls elsewhere. Please note that enabling this feature requires supervisor approval.

During the COVID-19 response period, OIT is temporarily waiving the fee charged to enable forwarding on your phone. Please note that there may be additional charges incurred for things like long-distance calling or other toll services. Those additional charges will not be waived and will be billed to your department's cost center.

If you don't have access to certain software, it might be in the Virtual Lab. In particular, most statistical software packages at CMU are available through the Virtual Lab. However, because computing resources aren't unlimited, we ask that you connect to Virtual Lab only if it is the only way you can access a particular software. In addition, please log out of the Virtual Lab when you are finished using it to ensure resources are available for others who need them.