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IT support to work remotely

13 Mar 2020

Ensuring the University can continue to operate with supported IT services

The Directorate of IT Services, like other parts of our University, is developing contingency plans to ensure that IT systems and services remain available and supported as a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Remote working

If you are a member of University staff or postgraduate researcher who uses our IT systems or software you should consider how to connect to University services from a personal computer or device.

If you only need to access your University email or personal network storage (P: drive), you can do this via the web:

There are two options for connecting remotely and there are some things you may need to do whilst on campus to get set up for the first time.

  1. Connect using VPN – most University services can be accessed via the web using the GlobalProtect VPN and 2-factor authentication from Duo. You’d need to ensure that your work is stored on a University network drive such as a P:Drive to be able to access it. If you already have the Microsoft Office suite installed on your personal computer, then this may be the best option for you.
  2. Connect via Remote Desktop connection – once set up you can use your personal computer to connect to your University computer and have access to all of your programs, files and network resources as though you were accessing your University computer in person. We have streamlined the setup process so that in most cases you do not need to call the IT Support Centre but can instead self-serve using the Software Centre and WakeIT service on your University computer.

Colleagues in the IT Support Centre have produced a comprehensive guide that gives full instructions on how to get set up for remote working on various devices. The information in the guide brings together relevant articles from the Support Portal’s Knowledge Base into one document – it should help colleagues who want to prepare for working remotely.

You must not take your University owned desktop computer home. It is not supported and will not work.

Remember your 2-factor device

If working away from your desk you’ll need to remember to have your mobile phone or Duo key fob with you, and if you’re using a laptop, don’t forget your charger.

Communication and collaboration

IT Services support a range of tools for communication and collaboration which may be useful when remote working. This includes use of email, Skype for Business/Lync, and SharePoint. BT conferencing is also available for voice calls, and information on how to get setup for this (if your faculty/school/department doesn’t already have it), is included in the above linked guide. Note that there are call charges to the University for using this service.

Microsoft Teams, part of Office 365, is not yet a fully supported service. New users or new Teams cannot be added at this time and any requests to do so will not be progressed. If you’ve already got it as an Early Adopter you can continue to use it but keep in mind that only a limited number of staff have it. Teams is only used for internal collaboration within the University.

Other tools:

  • Zoom video conferencing tool – Media Services in The Directorate of Estates & Facilities have extended their existing educational license used for the central Video Conferencing service. Now every member of staff at the University has access to a professional license with Zoom. This gives the ability to host meetings of unlimited length and of up to 300 participants at a time. Visit Media Services' Zoom information page.
  • PowWowNow conference calling tool – this is not a supported or free service and we recommend you do not use it.  As a premium phone service, the user is personally billed.

Can I get a laptop? 

We are prioritising the issuing of laptops as part of our contingency planning and asking those who have two devices to return one to IT Services so it can be reissued. Laptops should be returned to the IT walk-up support desk on the ground floor of the Kilburn Building, from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

Due to the evolving situation we are currently not able to process any new requests for laptops. As part of their contingency planning, Faculties and Professional Services have started a process to identify any critical roles that require a laptop device where this is not yet available and will plan to fulfil those requirements where possible.

For the latest information on lead times for new stock please see Purchasing for work on the IT Services website.  

Please note that University policy is that IT Services only fund one computing device per member of staff, or student as appropriate. 

IT help and support

Please use our Working Remotely Guide in the first instance, but if you cannot find an answer to your question there, then contact our IT Support Centre either online through the IT Support Portal, or via telephone on +44 (0) 161 306 5544. 

Coronavirus support

We have a detailed StaffNet site which contains the very latest information for colleagues, including how to report if you are unwell and information for those who are not able to work remotely.

We recognise that this is a worrying time so if you feel emotionally impacted, please do make use of our support services, including the Big White Wall, which is available to staff and students. The mental health charity, Mind has also published a specific guide for coronavirus.

At all times you should follow the latest advice from the NHS and Public Health England, to ensure the health and safety of our colleagues, students and visitors.