Working From Home

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the increase of questions about facilitating working from home, we have created this page of information to help you. Keep in mind that we are doing all that we can to answer requests and questions as quickly as possible.

Necessary Software

  • Global Protect Client

    • This allows you to create a VPN connection to our internal network.  See here for more details.
  • Popular Video Conferencing Tools
  • Additional Software
    • There might be other programs that you may need to do your work such as Microsoft Office. All of the software available to faculty and staff can be found here.

Teleconferencing Tips

Here is some information from Cisco about network bandwidth requirements for WebEx.

  • Maximum bandwidth consumption of Sending and Receiving Video:
    • High Definition Video: 2.5 Mbps (Receive) and 3.0 Mbps (Send)
    • High Quality Video: 1.0 Mbps (Receive) and 1.5 Mbps (Send)
    • Standard Quality Video: 0.5 Mbps (Receive) and 0.5 Mbps (Send)

A few tips if you’re experiencing lag, poor quality, or dropped connections during WebEx meetings (or other video conferencing tools).

  • Minimize other devices on your home network using the Internet
    • If other family members are streaming movies or playing video games online, try to arrange for them to stop while you are in a WebEx call.  Your bandwidth is shared between all users on your network so stopping all other traffic can improve your computer’s performance.
  • Turn off your camera
  • Use headphones
    • To reduce the echo effect, recommend all attendees including presenter to use headphones.
  • Move closer to your router
    • If you are using WiFi at home, it could be that you are too far from your router (the device that handles your WiFi signal) or there are too many obstacles between your router and your computer (e.g. walls).  If you can be in the same room as your router, you will likely get a better signal.
  • Use 2.4GHz frequency rather than 5GHz if possible
    • Many home routers broadcast on two separate WiFi frequencies.  The 2.4GHz frequency has a better range and performs better through walls.  The 5GHz frequency has a better top speed than 2.4, but it doesn’t travel as far or as well through walls.  If you are in the same room as your router, then it is best to use the 5GHz frequency.
  • Use a wired connection
    • If you have the option to use a computer that has an Ethernet connection to your router, then that will deliver the best possible performance for your computer.
  • Close other applications on your computer and/or reboot
    • It’s possible that your computer’s hardware is limited and therefore cannot do multiple tasks at the same time.  To relieve the strain on your home computer’s hardware, try closing any unneeded applications, including multiple tabs in your web browser.  This way your computer can dedicate more resources to the WebEx meeting and hopefully improve performance.  It’s also a good idea to reboot your computer at least once per week.  Processes can pile up in the background even when you close applications.  Rebooting your computer cleans up these background processes and generally helps your computer run faster until processes start piling up again.
  • Call in by phone              
    • Every WebEx invitation includes a phone number.  If you cannot get good performance out of your computer, try calling in by phone to at least get the audio to work.  You can do a combination of logging in with your computer to see video and calling in by phone for audio.  At the beginning of the meeting, you are asked how to connect audio.  You can choose “I will call in” for audio and choose “no video” for video.  With this combination, you are minimizing the dependence on your Internet connection, but you will still be able to view video feeds from other users.
  • Download the Cisco WebEx application to your computer
    • Although you can run WebEx entirely through your web browser, you are likely to get a better performance by installing the WebEx application to your computer.  You can download here:
  • Download Cisco WebEx to your phone
    • It’s possible that your phone’s data service is faster than your home network.  You can download Cisco Webex Meetings from the Play Store on Android or the App Store on Apple devices.   You can then sign-in as usual with your email address and join meetings through there.  You can turn off your WiFi on your phone to use your data plan instead.  Please note that this will use up your supply of monthly data allowance and possibly cost you money if you go over your limit.  Please use this with caution!  You can also use WiFi on your phone.  If your computer is older, then your phone might work better than your computer.
  • Test your connection speed
    • You can test your connection speed here: If your connection speed is significantly lower than advertised by your Internet Service Provider, you can call them to troubleshoot.  Sometimes problems are on their end and they can either make adjustments remotely or send a tech to examine your connection.
  • Use Box to share documents
    • If WebEx is consistently problematic for you, ask your meeting participants to share the documents from the meeting with you so you can download them and view them locally on your computer.  At least you might be able to follow along if you are unable to reliably see the video feeds from meeting participants.
  • Test your camera/microphone
    • Please perform a test video call and screen sharing with Microsoft Teams and/or Webex on your computer to ensure it is working properly before you need remote assistance or have meetings that require it.

Best Practices

  • Always lock your computer when you step away from it. You never know who might be able to gain access to your computer while you are away and access sensitive information from your device and the entire network.
  • If you are sharing your entire screen, make sure all confidential documents are closed. We also recommend closing your email in case you receive pop up notification.
  • If you are going to conduct non work-related activities (personal business, watch Netflix etc.), make sure to disconnect from VPN first.
  • For more security tips, visit the UW Knowledge Base document located here.

Other Notes

  • We won’t be able to help you with your home network.  Please contact your Internet Service Provider or a commercial service such as BestBuy’s Geek Squad to help you with your home equipment.