The Working From Home Guide was developed to
This document does not cover information related to the campus's emergency preparedness and response plans, health and safety measures, teaching, and other preparedness-related matters. For campus preparedness information, see:
The document also does not cover campus policies regarding telecommuting. For that, see HR's Staff Employee Telecommuting Policy and Procedures web page.
To help us make this guide useful and valuable to all faculty, staff, and students, we invite you to submit your questions, comments, and suggestions to us at
Because each work-at-home environment presents a different scenario, start by discussing your connectivity and server access needs with your departmental technical staff.
To connect to the Internet and campus resources from home, you'll need a connection through a local Internet service provider (ISP). Most ISPs will connect you directly to the Internet through your cable or phone line via DSL (digital subscriber line).
The Campus Remote Access VPN Service, also known as Remote Access VPN, is designed to allow CalNet IDauthenticated users to connect to the UC Berkeley network from outside of campus and encrypts the information sent to the network. Note that this is the recommended method to connect remotely.
When you use a VPN connection, it appears to systems on campus that you are also on campus. The VPN offers a way for authorized users to access UC Berkeley resources normally not available outside the campus network border.
For more information and instructions to download the free Cisco VPN client software, see the IST Knowledge Base article Getting started with the Cisco AnyConnect VPN Client.
When connecting to the campus network using the VPN service, your home computer must meet the campus Minimum Security Standard for Networked Devices. Connecting a computer that does not meet this standard could result in a block on your VPN access.
Remote desktop software allows you to connect to your office computer from your home computer or any remote computer. As with any remote connection, there are security considerations with using this type of software, so be sure to consult with your department's technical support staff about this option. It is recommended that you use remote desktop software only in conjunction with a connection through the Remote Access VPN, and not directly from off-campus.
To remotely connect to your office computer:
Your office computer must be configured to allow remote connections.
Your office computer must be configured to stay on all the time.
Your office computer must have a fixed IP (Internet protocol) address or dynamic DNS (domain name system) name if on DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocol).
You must have remote desktop software or similar capability available on your home computer.
A note about security. Be sure to heed security considerations when setting up this software, as it can open a huge security hole that may not only expose data on your office machine, but place at risk other hosts in your office, and in the data center, to which your office machine has access. Security tips for Microsoft's Remote Desktop are available in System and Network Security's article Securing Remote Desktop for System Administrators. Users connecting remotely to Macs via the Screen Sharing application can select from at least two encryption options in System Preferences by going to Screen Sharing > Preferences.
Laptops. If you have a laptop at work, check with your department to determine if there are policies and procedures in place for home use of University-owned computers. If allowable, you can take the laptop home and connect to the Internet through your cable or phone line.
Mobile devices. If you have a mobile device (e.g., iPhone, Blackberry, smart phone, etc.), you may be able to access some Berkeley services through it, but generally these devices do not support a full range of technology needs, nor do they provide data security. You will likely need a computer for efficient and extensive computing.
Computers. If you need to purchase a computer for home use, you are encouraged to check with your departmental technology support staff to determine whether to buy a Mac or PC and, if purchasing a PC, which operating system is best to interact with campus technology.
Flash drives. If you are using different computers at work and at home, you might consider using a flash drive for transferring files that do not contain restricted data.
Headphones and microphones. If you will be using a voice application, you might consider headphones and a microphone.
Webcams. If you will be doing desktop video conferencing, you'll need a webcam (in addition to a microphone).
Check with your departmental technical support team before purchasing or installing any work-related software on your office or home computer.
While some campus applications are web based, some of the software you use for your job or teaching tasks may need to be installed on the computer you'll be using at home. Many of the most commonly used applications are available through IST's Software Central website.
You should also check with your local technical support staff to learn if your department or unit has additional local licensing arrangements for software particular to your needs.
Campus data must be protected from loss and theft. A limited set of personally identifiable data that is "highly confidential" should never be processed on a laptop, portable media device, nor on home-located equipment. See the Campus Minimum Security Standard for Electronic Information.
Concerns about working with campus data at home may be directed to
Protect your home computer against viruses, malware, and attacks, much as you would your computer at work. Below are some suggestions on keeping your home computer and data secure.
The following articles provide further information.
bMail and bCal are the campus's new email and calendar systems.
If you use CalMail, you can access your email from the CalMail website.
bSpace, the campus course management and collaboration system, provides various tools for working with groups. These tools give you ways to store and publish documents, develop group files and folders for projects, and participate in and/or moderate a group discussion.
Research Hub available to everyone with a CalNet ID provides tools for organizing, finding, sharing, and editing documents. The campus-based content management and collaboration service lets Berkeley faculty, students, and staff access their work from anywhere and any device while keeping their materials stored safely and securely on campus servers.
Drive (Google Drive, formerly Google Docs), available as part of the campus's bConnected package, allows you to securely upload any file or folder to the Web, collaboratively author and edit documents, share files, and access the most up-to-date versions of those files from anywhere.
CalShare is a recharge online collaboration service available to UC Berkeley staff and faculty.
UC Berkeley Box Service is a cloud-hosted platform that allows users to easily store and share documents, photos, research materials, and other files for collaboration. Note that the Box service is not an appropriate platform for storing sensitive data, such as HIPAA or notice-triggering data.
Forwarding campus telephone calls. The Voicemail Enhanced service offered by Cal Voicemail, the campus voicemail system, will allow you to forward your calls to whatever number you wish, provided the Call Forward Universal (CFU) feature is enabled on your campus telephone line, and Call Forwarding is enabled on your campus telephone set.
For those who subscribe to the Voicemail Basic service, or in case of a pandemic when widespread forwarding of campus telephone calls to home or personal devices will tie up both inbound and outbound connections to the public telephone network, you would want to place a greeting on your voicemail, instructing callers to dial your home or cell phone number.
For more information, see the Cal Voicemail website.
Receiving voicemail messages via the Internet or email. The Voicemail Enhanced service offered by Cal Voicemail will allow you to access your voicemail messages online. The Voicemail Enhanced Unified Messaging service will further allow you to receive a copy of your voicemail messages as .wav files in your email.
For more information, see the Cal Voicemail Services Offered page.
Telephone conferencing. If you need to "attend" meetings or talk to several people from home, one option is telephone conferencing. This option is appropriate if you want a high-quality connection, but do not need to view images or collaborate on files in real time. Skype is a free teleconferencing solution. Other free conference calling solutions can be found by conducting an online search.
If you are interested in campus services, IST offers the following pay teleconferencing options:
For more information about these conference calling options, visit the IST Shopping Cart, select "Voice Services", and choose "Conference Calls"; or call campus operators, 642-1242.
When you need to share or show electronic material remotely, or see people as well as talk to them, you might consider video conferencing.
Video/web conferencing is useful for holding virtual meetings "face-to-face" with colleagues and students. The quality of the audio and video is generally very high, although it depends in large part on the quality of the network connection itself. You can share images and files directly from your computer using desktop video conferencing, but web conferencing tends to be better suited for that purpose.
ReadyTalk is a UC-preferred vendor providing web conferencing as a service that is supported by IST. A ReadyTalk service-overview presentation from BPAWG is available for viewing at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/13539935.
Educational Technology Services (ETS) has videoconferencing facilities, which can accommodate a variety of needs and are available to the UC Berkeley campus and the community at large. For more information, see their Videoconferencing page.
ETS also supports Skype and Adobe Connect, and can support other video conferencing options upon request.
You can find alternate video chatting options by conducting an online search. Some options are free all you need is your computer, an Internet connection, and a web camera. A few are listed here:
Technology service. For questions about a campuswide technology service, contact the IST Service Desk, 642-8500 (option 4, 1).
Instructional technology. For questions about a technology service related to teaching or learning, contact ETS, 643-8637.
Hardware and software. For questions about hardware or software specific to your unit or department, contact your local technical support staff. Questions about hardware or software in general can be directed to the IST Service Desk, 642-8500 (option 4, 1).
Network connection. For issues regarding connectivity, contact your home ISP (Internet service provider) and check the IST Service Status page.