Working Remotely

Last updated: January 19, 2024

This guide points to useful resources for telecommuting and working remotely that are available to UW students, faculty and staff. We also recommend that you contact your local IT support organization for guidance on best practices and resources for working remotely.

Most ways to work remotely need to be set up from campus before they can be used, so read through this guide and prepare in advance any tools you require.

Meet virtually with video, voice, and chat

A variety of web-based video conferencing and online chat platforms are available. Options include:

Tools Purpose(s) Details
UW Zoom Videoconferencing, conference calling
  • Host real-time video conversations
  • Share screens
  • Phone conference line included in meetings
  • Aligned with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law that protects the privacy of student educational records and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a federal law that protects the privacy of medical information
Microsoft Teams Videoconferencing, online chat
  • Part of UW Office 365
  • FERPA- and HIPAA-compatible
  • Direct messaging
  • Group chat functionality
  • Video and voice calling
Remote-configured office phone Conference calling
  • Can talk with up to five colleagues at once

Connect to the UW network with a VPN

To access resources on the UW network, telecommuters should use an approved, secure virtual private network (VPN). A VPN is an application on your computing device that establishes a secure connection to a network. VPN options include:

  • Husky OnNet: free to current students, faculty and staff. Husky OnNet clients are available for download from UWare for MacOS, Windows and Linux. Husky OnNet may also be accessed from mobile devices, including iOS, Android and Chrome, by downloading the F5 Access client from the appropriate app store.
  • Departmental VPN: Your department may also provide an approved VPN, so check with your department’s IT staff.
  • UW Medicine VPN: UW Medicine employees have access to the UW Medicine IT Services SSL VPN.

A VPN is not needed for web-based UW resources and services, such as Workday, web pages, Canvas, and UW Google and UW Office 365.

Prepare in advance:

A VPN allows you to access items as if you were on campus, but you’ll  need:

  • Husky OnNet or another departmental-recommended VPN software that you use
  • Location and how to connect to any shared or mapped drives for files or other tools and resources you need for your work or studies
  • IP address of your computer for a remote desktop connection.

When working remotely:

Start up Husky OnNet or another departmental-recommended VPN software that you use and follow the instructions for using the software to connect to the UW network.

Collaborate with others using online productivity platforms

Collaboration platforms empower you to work with peers from different locations, and since your work is stored in the cloud you can access it from anywhere with an internet connection.

Both UW Google and UW Office 365 are web-based and accessible via the internet. They offer online word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, storage and more.

Access UW administrative systems

You should be able to access many UW administrative systems from your laptop or home computer.

Prepare in advance:

  • To access systems and websites that require two-factor authentication (2FA), be sure to enroll the device you’ll use for the UW’s 2FA to verify it’s you when you sign in. Be sure to also set up a 2FA alternative/backup method in case you do not have your primary device.
  • If you have a managed workstation computer available at work, you can use Remote Desktop Access with an approved, secure VPN to connect to your work computer, and then you can access UW administrative systems in the usual way. Please see below for more information on Remote Desktop, including options for those who do not have a managed workstation.
  • Check with your local IT support staff for information about remotely connecting to the specific systems your department uses.

When working remotely:

  • Activate a VPN software, if necessary, to remotely access the UW network.
  • Authenticate with the system you need to access, with two-factor authentication if necessary.
  • Install a terminal emulator to access systems that use a command line interface. Access Keynes Administrative Applications with SecureCRT.

Remotely access, store and back up files

Store important documents in the cloud, or on a file service that you can access from remote locations.

Get an overview of online storage options, compare the different UW file service options, and ask your local IT staff to see if your work files are available via the Internet.

Remote Desktop

Users of UW-IT’s Managed Workstation Service (MWS) can find out about Remote Desktop at Connecting Remotely. If you do not have MWS, contact your local IT support organization for guidance and support regarding Remote Desktop.

Remote desktop access allows you to access your work computer through another computer with a connection to the Internet. Your icons, programs and printers are all available. You can even transfer files between UW systems.

Be sure to review and practice safe computing. See the Practice safe computing section below. Delete any files you downloaded that contain Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or otherwise sensitive data.

Computers must be turned on and not asleep in order to connect to them with a Remote Desktop connection. If you are unable to connect to your work computer remotely, it’s possible that your computer is no longer turned on or is asleep. Many computers have default power settings that will turn them off or put them to sleep after a certain amount of time has passed. If you need help accessing your work computer or for your work computer to be turned back on, please contact your local IT department. If your work computer is managed by UW-IT’s Managed Workstation service, send an email to

In order to use remote desktop access:

  • Your work computer will need to remain turned on (you can be logged out, but the computer must not be turned off).
  • You will need to know your work computer’s current IP address or name. If you need help finding your IP address, contact your local IT support staff.
  • You need to download and use an approved VPN like Husky OnNet.

Mapping a Drive

You may map a drive on your home computer to access your work files on a shared file service.

U Drive is a centrally-managed file storage where you can store up to 50 GB of data, all automatically backed up and accessible off campus with a VPN.

In order to map a drive:

  • You need to download and use an approved VPN such as Husky OnNet.
  • You need to know how to access the individual or shared drive. How to connect varies by shared file service; If you need help finding the shared drive, contact your local IT support staff.

Web-based storage

Both UW Google Drive and UW OneDrive for Business are web-based storage and collaborative applications for file backup and sharing.

When working remotely:

  • You must store any files you want to access remotely in the online storage option you chose — any files not stored in an online storage system cannot be accessed remotely.
  • You must know the URL from which to access web-based storage

Phone, voicemail, and telecommunications

Telecommuters can access voicemail from home and use the free Extension Connect feature to extend UW telephone service to a cellular or home telephone number.

Forward your calls to your cell or home number using Call Forwarding.

Contact the UW Information Technology Service Center for the following:

  • Extending your calls simultaneously to both your campus and home or cellular phones using Extension to Cellular.
  • Downloading the Avaya Workplace (Softphone) software to your laptop or home computer so you can answer and process your office calls on a computer connected to Wi-Fi.
  • Purchasing a UW Telecommuter VoIP handset and installing it at your home or other remote location. This allows you to use your campus telephone wherever you are. You will have access to your campus phone number, voicemail, 5-digit dialing, and all other features you have on your campus phone.

You can send both faxes and text messages from your web browser using UW-IT’s eFax Service and Text Messaging Service.

Prepare in advance:

  • To access your voicemail from remote locations, you’ll need to know your 7-digit mailbox number.
  • You will need to either activate call forwarding from your campus phone before working remotely, or sign up for Remote Access Call Forwarding to activate call forwarding from remote locations.
  • To receive phone calls on both your work and home/cellular telephones, you will need to configure Extension Connect.

Get software

Many software programs you use at work can also be downloaded to your personal computer for telecommuting. You can download software at reduced or no cost in UWare, thanks to license agreements with software vendors.

Certain products and/or versions are only licensed for UW-owned equipment. Please be sure to check the eligibility requirements before installing software or send email to if you are unsure.

Practice safe computing

Protect your computer, identity and privacy. Download free antivirus software, and learn how to protect yourself on the web.

  • Staff receive a free license to use Sophos Antivirus Software on University-owned computers and on their personal computers, either on campus or at home.
  • Use safe email practices, and report any abuse, harassment or suspicious email.
  • Be mindful of phishing attempts, and follow the best practices to avoid phishing scams recommended by the Office of the Chief Information Security Officer.
  • Understand appropriate use governing the use of UW computing and networking resources.
  • Don’t accept untrusted certifications if warned by the browser’s security.
  • Delete any file you downloaded that contains FERPA, HIPAA or otherwise sensitive data.
  • For more tips, see the Working Remotely Best Practices from the UW Office of Information Security.