Work Remotely: Frequently Asked Questions

On this page you'll find answers to frequently asked questions about working remotely. Remember, even though you’re working remotely, you’re not alone. If you have any further questions or issues, contact the HUIT Service Desk or your local IT support.

Internet / Network

What if I don't have reliable internet access at home, or my connection is slow?

HUIT's guide to getting online and optimizing your connection offers tips for accessing the internet and troubleshooting slow network connections. 

Can Harvard's network and IT systems support the increased demand of online courses?

HUIT staff have been working around the clock to prepare the tools and resources necessary to support remote teaching and learning. HUIT is working closely with our major vendors, including Zoom, Microsoft, Instructure (Canvas), Verizon, and others, to support continuity and stability of services throughout this period of exceptionally high demand from the Harvard community. 


How do I set up my Zoom account?

Zoom video conferencing can be accessed from any web browser. Get started here

What should I do before I start using Zoom?

  1. Make sure you have the bandwidth to run Zoom.  Check your internet speed, and then check Zoom’s system requirements.
  2. Test your Zoom connection. Visit to check you can successfully join a meeting.
  3. If you don’t have the bandwidth, join by phone. Use access numbers provided with meeting invitation to dial into Zoom from a mobile or landline phone.

Download a printable PDF of troubleshooting tips. If you have any questions, contact the HUIT Service Desk or your local IT support

What should I do if I'm having problems with Zoom?

If Zoom is not working as it should, try the following quick fixes to get back up and running:

  1. Wait 90 seconds. Zoom will automatically try to reconnect you.
  2. Move closer to your wi-fi router. Getting closer to your router can improve signal strength. See more tips for improving your network performance at
  3. Turn off video. Video uses more bandwidth than audio only. If you don’t need it, switch it off.
  4. Sign out and sign back in again. Leave the meeting and join it again. If you’re the host, end the meeting and start it again.
  5. Join by phone. You can dial into Zoom (audio only) from a mobile or landline phone using access numbers provided in meeting invitation

Download a printable PDF of troubleshooting tips. If you have any questions, contact the HUIT Service Desk or your local IT support

When and how should employees use Zoom for meetings?

HUIT 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, please follow these guidelines on using Zoom sensibly. 

    How can I find out if Zoom is unavailable?

    HUIT's service status dashboard shows the operational status of key systems, including Zoom. You can subscribe to alerts to receive the latest updates in case of any service interruption. 

    How can I enable enhanced privacy features on Zoom?

    As a host, you can enable enhanced privacy features to add an additional layer of security and control who participates in your meetings and classes. Click on the headers below for instructions on using these features.

    • Require a meeting password. Adding a password means participants can only join the meeting with the correct password of your choice.
    • Add a waiting room. A waiting room lets the host review who’s trying to join the meeting before it starts. You can admit participants one-by-one or all at once.
    • Lock your meeting. When everyone you’ve invited has successfully joined, you can lock your meeting to keep others from joining.

    Download a printable PDF of meeting privacy tips. If you have any questions, contact the HUIT Service Desk or your local IT support

    How do I manage meeting participants in Zoom?

    Hosts can control the ways that participants can interact during a meeting or class. Using these options can help you better manage a meeting or class by minimizing excess distraction or disruptive participants.

    • Mute a participant. People often leave their microphones on by mistake, meaning everyone in the meeting can hear their background noise. You can mute participant microphones to stop this from happening or to simply prevent interruptions during a presentation.
    • Stop a participant’s video. If a participant’s video is distracting, or you think it’s causing them to have connection issues, you can switch it off for them.
    • Disable screen sharing. To ensure you control the meeting slides or content, hosts can prevent other participants from sharing their screen.
    • Remove participants. In the rare event that someone is in your meeting who shouldn’t be, or if you need to remove them for any other reason, hosts can remove a participant and prevent them from being able to rejoin.

    Download a printable PDF of participant management tips. If you have any questions, contact the HUIT Service Desk or your local IT support

    Files and Applications

    How can I access my email, calendar, and files remotely?

    Office 365 applications such as email, calendar, OneDrive and SharePoint can be accessed on any web browser. Visit for more details. 

    Can I access my archived email remotely with the Outlook Web (OWA) client?

    Yes, local Outlook archives can be made available for viewing remotely with OWA. View these instructions on how to move folders and emails into your online mailbox so that they are accessible through the Outlook Web client (OWA).

    Can I access other commonly-used Harvard applications remotely?

    Most of Harvard’s other major applications can be accessed from any web browser. Find them at

    How do I get the additional software I need on my personal device to work remotely?

    Harvard’s Microsoft contract allows faculty, students and staff to install Microsoft Office Pro Plus on personal devices. Install MS Office Pro.

    Other applications need to be handled on a case by case basis due to vendor licensing agreements. Please contact the HUIT Service Desk or your local IT support to learn more. 

    Which Harvard applications can I install on my personal mobile device?

    Click here for a list of applications that can be installed on your personal mobile device. 

    How can I access department shared drives?

    Talk to your manager; if you have a Harvard-owned laptop and think you’ll need access to department shared drives (like your G: drive on Sox1 or Fasdepts), make sure you have a VPN account installed and tested.

    How can I scan documents while working remotely?

    Use the Microsoft OneDrive iOS app on your smart device to capture, scan and save documents while away from your regular office scanners.  This process is approved for scanning of Level 3 documents. Level 4 documents can be scanned using this method but must be moved immediately from your OneDrive into a Secure Level 4 Compliant SharePoint site and then securely deleted from OneDrive.  Follow these instructions for Scanning documents to OneDrive using the Microsoft OneDrive iOS app.  

    How should I send high-risk (Level 4) data?

    High-risk (Level 4) data should not be sent via email to anyone internal or external to Harvard. Accellion Kiteworks will encrypt the contents of your file for secure transfer. Learn more or get started here.


    Can I use my personal devices to conduct Harvard work while working remotely?

    Using a Harvard-owned device that has been configured to meet Harvard’s security requirements is always the best alternative for conducting Harvard work, both on campus and at another location. Note your personal device will not be permitted to connect to network fileshares. If your personal device is your only option, please read and comply with Harvard’s security policies:

    You can access many of Harvard’s applications via any computer’s web browser:

    With a personal computing device that you have updated to comply with Harvard’s security policies, you are still prohibited from:

    • Accessing network fileshares

    • Storing and synching files with level 4 data on your device


    What is VPN and when should I use it?

    A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network.

    When to use VPN:

    • Anytime you are conducting University business on your Harvard-owned laptop

    • You need to connect to network fileshares. (e.g., G: drive on Sox 1 or Fasdepts) on your Harvard-owned laptop. Note: connecting to fileshares from personally owned computers is prohibited, even with VPN.

    • If you need to use applications that require VPN. Some include:

    • Advance

    • Citrix

    • Giftwrap

    • Harvard Art Museums systems

    • Harvard Data Warehouse (Database)

    • HarvardPhone portal

    • I3 Contact Center

    • IIQ

    • MIDAS

    • PI Dashboard

    • QlikView

    • Various Library IT and IT specific apps including CyberArk, TWS/Maestro, Informatica

    Learn how to request, install and test VPN


    How do I keep my information secure if I'm using my personal device?

    If you don’t have a Harvard-provided laptop, you’ll need to take extra steps to make sure your work stays secure. Follow Harvard’s Personal Device Security Guidelines

    How can I verify my identity remotely with two-step verification?

    You won’t be able to verify your identity through two-step verification from your office phone if you’re not there. Learn how to add additional devices for two-step verification


    How can I retrieve my Harvard voicemail messages remotely?

    You can access your Harvard voicemail messages remotely by following these steps:  

    1. Call the dial-in access number for Harvard voicemail: 617-998-3999. Hit * then the # key from your alternate phone. 
    2. Following the prompt, enter your ID and then the # key. (Your ID is your 5-digit Harvard telephone number.)  
    3. Following the prompt, enter your PIN followed by the # key. (Your PIN is your voicemail password/PIN.)  
    4. Follow the remaining prompts to access your voicemail.  

    Click here for more information on Harvard Phone Voicemail service

    Is Jabber SoftPhone available for use on remote devices?

    No, Jabber Softphone for new subscribers is generally restricted at this time for remote work due to vendor limitations.   HUIT is working with the vendor to expand its capacity in the near future. See the options for answering your Harvard telephone calls remotely on alternate devices using Call Forwarding and Single Number Reach. 

    Can I use my cell phone on wi-fi?

    Select phones are capable of Wi-Fi Calling, allowing you to make and receive domestic or international calls over a Wi-Fi network even if you're not within range of cellular coverage. If you have service issues while indoors, like dropped calls, Wi-Fi Calling can help alleviate those issues by routing your call over your internet connection securely. Wi-Fi calling requires an iPhone 6 or later on a supported carrier, or an Android device that supports HD calling. Click here to learn more.

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