We will update this page as we develop new resources that support remote work. If you have Zoom-specific questions, refer to our overview of Zoom.
Identify any HMS equipment you have relocatedHelp us keep track of HMS computing assets
With an updated operating system and the right security software (see the sections below), you can use your personal computer for remote work. However, if you have brought your work computer home, we need your help to track this and any computer equipment that has moved off-campus for HMS business conducted at home. We have created a simple form for you to use for this purpose: Remote Work Computer Equipment Form.
Thank you for completing this form to help us track this equipment.
Purchasing computer equipment for remote workGuidance on purchasing during the COVID-19 crises
Purchasing a Computer During COVID-19 provides guidance on the purchasing of Harvard funded computer equipment for remote work. This information is only effective during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and is meant as guidance only.
Set up your HMS user accountsRegister for access to HMS IT resources
Update your operating systemUpgrade to a supported version of your OSWindows macOS
Make sure any machine that you are using for work is running Windows 10 or macOS 10.12 or later.
- Windows users can learn more from Microsoft about upgrading to Windows 10
- Mac users can upgrade their operating system by following Apple's instructions
Install security softwareProtect yourself from malware and other attacksCrowdStrike
By installing CrowdStrike’s software, you will help protect your data and user accounts from malicious activity.
- Install CrowdStrike on any computer you use for work
Connect with others
Host remote meetingsInstall video conferencing softwareZoom WebEx
You can connect with your colleagues directly using our conferencing services Zoom or Webex. You can use whichever tool you are most comfortable with.
If you are having trouble getting a good connection when you are in a Zoom meeting, follow these tips:
- Move closer to your wifi router—or just try a different spot—so you can get a stronger connection.
- Reduce video and music streaming to ease the demand on your home network.
- Switch off video sharing and continue the meeting using only audio.
You can enhance privacy while using Zoom by:
- Security and Privacy Tips
- Turning off the attention tracking feature if you are the host.
- Save recorded sessions in a secure HMS location instead of in the Zoom cloud.
- Tell participants that chats they send are captured as part of a recorded session.
- Encourage participants to turn of video-sharing if they prefer.
Access your email and calendarUse a web browser to check your inboxOutlook
While you are out of the office, you can access your HMS email and calendar from any web browser using the Outlook web app.
Forward calls and voicemailsAnswer calls and check your messages from anywhereHarvard Phone
While you are out of the office, you can turn on call forwarding so that calls to your work phone will ring your cell phone, home phone, or any other alternate phone. You can even set it up to ring multiple lines at once so you can answer from wherever is most convenient. You can also configure your voicemail to relay your messages to your email address.
Access files and applications
Set up a VPN connectionSecurely access your files and applicationsJunos Pulse Secure
Set up remote desktop accessConfigure your work computer for remote access
If you need to access documents or run applications that are on your work computer, you need to configure remote desktop access. You must directly configure your work computer before you can access it remotely.
Once configured, you can interact with the screen of your work computer from anywhere that has a high-speed connection (a wired Ethernet connection to a DSL, cable, or fiber internet service is ideal).
- Set up your Windows computer for remote desktop access
- Set up your Mac computer for remote desktop access
Connect to your files and applicationsAccess your work after VPN and remote desktop are set up
To remotely access the files and applications on your office computer, on network servers, or on other network resources, you need to set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection for secure access from a remote location. For files on your office computer, you will also need to set up remote desktop access.
After you have configured your work computer for remote desktop access, how you connect to it depends on which operating system you are using on the machine you are connecting from.
- Access a Windows PC from another Windows PC
- Access a Mac from another Mac
- Access a Windows PC from a Mac
Share files on cloud storage or on HMS serversUse our services to store your workDropbox OneDrive
Frequently asked questionsCommon inquiries about remote work
When should I use Zoom?
Harvard University IT is monitoring our technology platforms carefully, working directly with our vendors to ensure stability and continuity of services. We are pleased with their performance thus far. However, given the extraordinary additional demand anticipated, and our need to prioritize academic use, below are some basic guidelines for using Zoom sensibly:
- Consider whether you need to hold a meeting. A phone call or email might suffice.
- If you hold a Zoom meeting, keep it short.
- Video calls are most effective when they are 45-min or less
- Consider adopting a 10-min “stand-up” approach—a meeting not long enough to sit down—and focus on priorities of the day
- If you experience any bandwidth issues during your Zoom meeting or remote class, turn off your video when not speaking.
- Close your Zoom session when you are done. Do not host a persistent Zoom session.
As we continue to monitor Zoom performance, if the guidance above needs to change, we will update the community on best practices.
When should I use Zoom versus phone calls?
Zoom is an open real-time video and file-sharing collaboration environment. It is designed for teams to collectively share conversations, video communications, documents, and comments (chats). Whereas it is optimal for rapidly sharing a wide variety of media among an open group, it is not suited for private conversations or collaborations where sensitive data are exchanged.
Phone calls are limited in their ability to engage multiple parties in broad data sharing. They are more suited for private conversations. Phones do have multi-party capability (conference calls).
My Zoom session is experiencing bandwidth issues, what should I do?
If you experience any bandwidth issues during your Zoom meeting or remote class, turn off your video when not speaking.
Are there privacy concerns when using Zoom?
- Meeting hosts should NOT use the attention-tracking feature
- If a session is recorded session, it should be saved to an HMS location such as shared drives/Dropbox, NOT to the Zoom cloud
- Participants should be made aware that chats they send are part of a recorded session.
- Participants who do not want to be recorded are encouraged to turn off their video and/or audio.
Software and service support
If there is an issue with the network, storage, or another service, will it be resolved?
Yes, during this time all mission-critical services are being monitored and staff will respond as necessary to any events.
Will O2 be available during this time?
Yes. O2 compute, support, and training services will continue to operate during this time. All RC training and office hours consultation will take place in virtual Zoom sessions. You do not need a VPN to login to O2 or copy files to the transfer cluster, and performance will likely improve if you are not using a VPN. For more details, please visit https://it.hms.harvard.edu/our-services/research-computing/research-computing-response-coronavirus
What should I do if I don't have an internet connection at home?
If you do not have internet access at home, you may be able to tether your computer to devices connected to cellular data plans. Check with your cell phone carrier about possible fees or usage caps.
A similar option is to set up a mobile wifi hotspot. This hotspot is a dedicated device that provides a wifi signal that connects you through your cellular data plan. Check with your carrier for compatible devices and for guidance on setting up a mobile hotspot.
If you have a wired internet connection in your home but no wireless connection, your provider may provide a router or other device that enables a wireless wifi connection. Check with your internet service provider for more information.
Get helpBrowse support articles or contact us for help with remote work
You can still get tech support while working remotely by contacting HMS IT through the Help Center. All mission-critical services are being monitored and staff will respond as necessary to any events.
Learn more from HMS and HarvardGet more information about the response to the Coronavirus outbreak