Welcome to the Remote Work Guide: a LITS resource intended to support Mount Holyoke College staff working remotely. We’ve included support resources and service information, as well as a checklist to ensure you are set up for effective remote work. We hope you’ll use this guide as a roadmap to success, and please reach out via the feedback form below if you have any comments, suggestions, or recommendations.
Accessibility concerns? Use the MHC Accessibility Barriers Form to anonymously report physical, electronic, or administrative barriers to access on campus.
Do you have feedback on this guide? Share your thoughts here.
To work successfully from off-campus, you 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 devices, but they are not adequate standalone equipment for working remotely.
- If you have an MHC-issued laptop computer: Test it at home before you need to work remotely. Any MHC-issued laptop meets the minimum operating requirements for successful off-campus work. You may proceed to Step 1 of the Remote-Readiness Checklist.
- If you are borrowing an MHC laptop from LITS: Review the Login Instructions for Loaner Laptops.
- If you plan to use your personal computer: Ensure that it meets the requirements outlined below. Select the "Recommended minimum standards" heading for details.
- If you do not have an MHC-issued computer or personal computer: Talk to your supervisor.
Recommended minimum standards for an existing computer:
Any computer purchased within the past 4 years will serve your needs. The detailed minimum standards that LITS recommends are:
- PC-Windows 10; 8gb Ram; i5 processor; Current anti-virus and malware protection software.
- MAC-OS 10.14, 8gb Ram; 1.3 GHz processor; Current anti-virus and malware protection software.
Recommended minimum standards for a new or refurbished computer purchase:
- Macbook/Mac Air 13" / 8 GB / 256 GB Solid State Drive
- Latitude 7300 13" / 16 GB / 256GB Solid State Drive
Continue to Step #1 of the Remote-Readiness Checklist for more important information regarding personal computers, including antivirus and malware protection recommendations.
Here are some items to consider in planning to work from home. FACULTY: In addition to this checklist, please review LITS’ Guide to Teaching Remotely: Flexible, Immersive Teaching (FIT).
Turn on Remote Access
- Complete these steps on your MHC computer before you leave campus: How to turn on Remote Access (PC and Mac)
- Test and practice the process of connecting to your MHC computer from home.
Contact the Technology Help Desk if you are having problems accessing these instructions.
Test MHC Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Systems and services that reside on the college network (such as Colleague, EMS, Lawson, OnBase, PowerFAIDS, and Titanium) require that you establish a VPN connection to the college network in order to access them. Please set up your VPN connection on the computer you plan to use from home. Visit Using the Virtual Private Network for download instructions.
Once you’ve downloaded the MHC VPN, test your connection from off-campus using the following steps:
- Turn on your computer and connect to the internet as you normally would.
- Open the GlobalProtect VPN software, and sign in using your MHC user account and password.
- Once you’ve successfully connected to the VPN, you will see a "Welcome to MHC VPN" message.
For more information regarding VPN, see our FAQ at the bottom of this page. If you cannot download or connect to the VPN, contact the Technology Help Desk for support.
Antivirus and malware protection
If you are using an existing personal computer, please keep the Operating System and Security Software up to date.
Free Antivirus Software recommendations:
Free AntiMalware Software recommendation: MalwareBytes
AMBR: You will continue to use the AMBR file system to manage and work with private or sensitive college data. To access files on AMBR remotely, connect to the College VPN and map to AMBR as you would normally. For detailed instructions, visit How to map a network drive.
Google Drive provides unlimited, collaborative & accessible file storage. If you need to access (not private or sensitive) work files stored on your office computer's hard disk to successfully work from home, we suggest you move them to Google Drive to make them accessible from any computer anytime, anywhere. You can learn more about Google Drive by reviewing the Google Drive Help Center.
College license allows for the following to be installed on personal computers:
- Adobe Creative Cloud (The instructions below are also available in PDF format with screenshots)
- Go to Adobe Creative Cloud, type your full Mount Holyoke email address into the email field, and click Continue.
- You will be redirected to a Mount Holyoke portal. Enter your MHC credentials and click Login.
- Go to the Apps tab and download/install the apps of your choice (including the Adobe CC desktop app).
Mount Holyoke College has a site license for faculty and staff to use this cloud-based e-signature service. Access can be requested through our Helpdesk Portal.
Microsoft Office 365 (Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint): Enter your Mount Holyoke email address at Office 365 for Education and follow the prompts to download Office 365 apps on your home computer.
- Please note: LITS does not support Microsoft One Drive as storage. Please use your MHC Google Drive for storage.
- Mathematica, SPSS and MatLab
- Submit the Academic software for home use request form for access.
- Zoom videoconferencing: please visit the Teaching Remotely: Flexible, Immersive Teaching (FIT) Guide for Zoom install instructions and information. These resources were compiled with students and faculty in mind, but they also apply to staff! You can also find our Zoom security recommendations here.
- Virtru is an encryption tool that MHC uses to encrypt sensitive emails and attachments. Contact the Technology Help Desk to request a Virtru account.
AVAYA Softphone app
Wish you could access your MHC telephone from home? LITS has an app for that. The Avaya softphone app is a software tool that brings all the capabilities of your office phone to your computer. If you are interested, please fill out our Softphone App Request Form and the LITS Technology Help Desk will be in touch with more information and an Avaya Self-Admin Password. (this password needs to be requested via helpdesk before you install the Avaya software)
myPhone Self-Admin tool
MHC's telephone system allows you to easily control your office phone settings from home with myPhone Self-Admin tool.
With the myPhone Self-Admin tool, you can remotely:
- Reset your voicemail password
- Reset your telephone login password
- Set up voicemail to email notifications
- Enable or disable do not disturb, voicemail, and forwarding
How to use myPhone Self-Admin:
- Connect to MHC VPN.
- You can now login and manage your extension through myPhone Self-Admin (myphone.mtholyoke.edu) with your MHC username and the password you received via the LITS Helpdesk.
For more information on the myPhone Self-Admin tool, check out this helpful PDF.
- Create and print out Google 2-Step Verification backup codes: Backup codes allow you to login to your MHC Google Account in the event that your usual 2-Step Verification method is unavailable and you’re locked out of your account. Visit Google’s guide to backup codes for instructions.
- Follow our Remote Work Security Best Practices to help protect the security and privacy of your computer and data while working from home.
- Follow our Zoom security recommendations to prevent "zoombombing."
- Keep these Home Office Ergonomic Tips in mind as you set up your home office. We also recommend practicing these office stretches.
- Manage your call forwarding: Get in the habit of turning Forwarding ON at the start of your workday and OFF at the end of your remote workday through the myPhone Self-Admin tool.
- Update your devices: Be sure to promptly install available updates to your device's operating system, applications, browsers and browser extensions.
- Beware of scams: Scammers may contact you via email, text, SMS, phone or social media, and may pretend to be a trusted colleague or someone on the executive level. They may seek sensitive information, payments, gift cards, etc. Even if you recognize a phone number or email address, be sure to confirm every request for sensitive information via a trusted means of communication such as an MHC Directory phone number.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi: While working remotely, it's best to use a secure, password-protected wired or wireless network. If you must use a public or unsecured network, use MHC VPN.
- Stay connected: Utilize Google Hangouts and Chat to stay in touch with your team. Check your MHC Gmail frequently and keep an eye out for important updates from the College. For more information regarding staying connected via Chat and Hangouts, check the FAQ below.
- Conserve resources: MHC’s network is a shared resource, and usage will be higher than usual during a state of emergency. Please avoid using the MHC network for anything besides work.
Frequently Asked Questions
Click a question below to reveal the answer. We've organized them into categories for your convenience.
Connecting from home:
Some staff have found that contacting their Internet Service Provider (such as Comcast) and asking for a ping back to the Modem has cleared up their slow/spotty internet connection. If this does not resolve your issue, continue reading below for alternative options.
In response to COVID-19, many internet providers are opening their WiFi Hotspots to the public in an effort to keep everyone connected. These providers include:
- All Xfinity WiFi Public Hotspots across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free, including non-subscribers. You can find a map of hot spots here. Just use “xfinitywifi” network name and launch a browser.
- AT&T will leep their public Wi-Fi hotspots open for any one who needs them. The service will also be offering unlimited internet data and offer internet access for limited income households at $10 a month through the Access from AT&T program.
- Charter Spectrum is offering Free WiFi Hotspots and free spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 or college students who don't have a Spectrum broadband subscription. Call 1-844-488-8395 to enroll. Installation fees will be waived for new student households
Next to the internet provider you use, the next most important factor is how you connect to the network within a house or other location. Things to consider:
- If possible, directly connecting to the internet router or access point via a wired (Ethernet) cable will provide the best quality, especially for audio/video applications like Zoom.
- If you connect via Ethernet, you don’t need to worry about wi-fi quality.
- If you need to use wi-fi, the quality of your wireless connection will significantly impact your overall internet quality.
- Avoid having two or more walls or one floor between your computer and your home’s internet router/access point.
- Houses larger than 1,500 square feet or so (depending on layout and building materials) will usually need multiple wireless access points for good house-wide coverage.
- If you’re using the wireless access point that came with your internet connection, note that these often have average to poor coverage.
- Consider installing a newer wi-fi access point, or wi-fi mesh networks that cover your home with multiple access points. The Wirecutter by The New York Times regularly tests and recommends WiFi access points and mesh hardware.
Contact the Technology Help Desk for support if you are concerned about the reliability of your home internet connection.
VPN stands for virtual private network. MHC VPN allows us to connect to the MHC network from home (or while traveling) safely and securely in order to access campus resources.
VPN is only required when using an on-campus restricted software, library resource, or while connecting remotely to a campus computer. Take a look at the examples below to better understand when you should connect to VPN:
- Accessing your MHC Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Moodle, Zoom, etc: VPN is not necessary
- Accessing files on the campus AMBR file server: VPN is necessary
- Remote access to your MHC desktop: VPN is necessary
- Accessing library research databases: VPN is sometimes necessary
Services that require VPN include:
- Departmental folder and files on AMBR
- Academic Software: Some campus software use a license server to run. If you have software installed on your computer that must access an on-campus license server a VPN connection is required to successfully connect.
- EMS (full client)
- Remote Desktop from a home computer to a campus computer
- Connection to the myPhone Self-Administration tool
- AVAYA Softphone App
- Business Objects
- ARMS (full client)
- Windows Remote Desktop to computers behind the firewall
- Controller file server
Wish you could access your MHC telephone from home? LITS has an app for that. The AVAYA softphone app (not to be confused with the myPhone self-administration tool) is a software tool that brings all the capabilities of your office phone to your computer. If you are interested, please fill out our Softphone App Request Form and the LITS Technology Help Desk will be in touch with more information.
Follow the steps below:
- Dial 413-538-2660.
- Enter 1 to retrieve your messages.
- When prompted for your extension, dial your extension then the # sign
- When prompted for your password, dial your password then the # sign
From your remote work location, open a web browser, go to zoom.us/test and click Join to enter a test Zoom meeting. This is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the tool and all of its features. Practice connecting to a meeting, muting and unmuting yourself, turning your camera on and off, etc. If you are having trouble connecting to Zoom, contact the LITS Technology Help Desk.
Most modern laptops and some desktop computers now come with integrated webcams built into the display. However, if you relying on a PC desktop machine, you will need an external webcam for videoconferencing. Webcams may be available upon request from the LITS Technology Help Desk.
Bad actors seeking to disrupt online meetings and courses are crashing zoom-based sessions in a trend known as “Zoombombing”. Disruptors interfere with presentations by hijacking the session, sharing inappropriate or offensive material or just by engaging in unwelcome discourse. These unwelcome disruptions can be prevented by applying a few precautionary steps:
- Limit Zoom Link Sharing: Only share the Zoom links with meeting or class attendees. Do not post the meeting or class link to social media, public web pages/calendars or other places where it can be easily discovered. When possible, hide the link behind authentication - like a Moodle, my.mtholyoke or MHC event calendar item restricted to Mount Holyoke Community members.
- Apply Security Measures to the Meeting or Class: Review LITS’ Zoom Security Recommendations for information about how to use security settings in Zoom to limit attendees’ options such as audio and sharing settings. Additional ways to prevent unwanted crashers can be found on this Zoom blog post.
It's okay for the laptop to remain plugged in when it is fully charged. The batteries have controls that prevent them from accepting a charge when full, so they are not damaged.
It is good to exercise the battery every once in a while by unplugging it.
About the only bad thing to do is to allow it to completely run out.