UBC IT Guide to Working off Campus

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Getting Started

On this page we’ve compiled some key technical resources to support you in working off campus. Keep reading to find out how to set yourself up for successful remote work.

Start here for instructions on what you’ll need to work off-campus.

1. Set up your workstation

Set up your remote work area to maximize comfort, efficiency and safety. View the Working Remotely Ergonomics Guide to get set up.


The computer or device you use should adhere to the requirements listed in our Privacy Checklist. We recommend using a desktop computer or laptop over a mobile device, tablet or other device to work remotely if you do not have a UBC-provided device.


Ensure you have a wired or wireless network available. Remember that home internet connection won’t provide the same level of bandwidth and quality of connection in the office. Videoconferencing and file transfers will generally take longer off-campus.

Audio Visual

Most laptops and computers have a built-in speaker and microphone, but you may want to use an external device such as headset if you plan to have many audio conference calls. Be sure to mute your microphone in meetings when you’re not speaking.


Videoconferencing may require an external USB camera if your existing computer does not have a built-in camera. Most laptops will have a webcam built in and you can still participate in videoconference and audioconference calls without a webcam.

2. Configure your device(s)

The device(s) you use, whether UBC-provided or your own personal device, they will need adhere to the requirements on our Privacy Checklist.

Logging in Remotely

For UBC provided devices, different login requirements are needed depending on the campus you are connecting from.


Start your device and log-in as you usually would with your CWL credentials.


Start your device up and that should bring you to the following login screen. To login remotely, click the "computer only login" option under the username and password box. This fast-tracks the login process by preventing the device looking for network resources. This will log you in locally to the computer and you will arrive at your desktop. You can then follow the Privacy Checklist steps below.

3. Privacy Checklist

1. Enhanced CWL (Multifactor Authentication)

To keep personal information at UBC secure, faculty and staff must update their Campus-Wide Login (CWL) account to an 'Enhanced CWL' account. Learn more about Enhanced CWL here.

I do not have a CWL account

To enroll in Enhanced CWL, you must first have an active CWL account.

I have an existing CWL account

1. Login to MFA Device Management Website

Using your CWL username and password, login to the Self-service MFA Enrollment and Device Management website at https://mfadevices.id.ubc.ca.

2. Enroll your device

Follow the detailed step-by-step instructions to enroll your first device. Once you are enrolled you can manage any of the authentication methods associated with your account, including adding or removing a device.

3. Get help

Contact the IT Service Centre if you need assistance.

2. Anti-virus and malware protection

Protect yourself and UBC systems and data against viruses, spyware, adware, and suspicious files. Download UBC’s recommended anti-virus program here. If you have purchased or installed a third-party antivirus, please check and ensure it is running. Best practice is to run a scan on your machine prior to using UBC systems.

3. Encrypt your device(s)

Encryption is a method of preventing unauthorized access to electronic data. It is used to protect data on devices such as computers, laptops, cellphones, or USB sticks. It can also be used to protect data during transmission which is especially important when working remotely. Encryption is imperative for sending sensitive information, securing your documents, keeping your email private and, ultimately, it allows for peace of mind if a computer is misplaced, lost or stolen.

Getting Connected

How do I access email?

Use UBC’s FASmail service to access your email by logging in with your UBC CWL credentials.

Outlook Web App (Web Browser)

You can access your UBC email and calendar through a web browser at mail.ubc.ca (via the Outlook Web App) with your CWL credentials. Bookmark this link for ease of access.

Desktop Email Client (Outlook Desktop App)

You can configure the email client on your computer to use the UBC Faculty and Staff email (FASmail) service. While setup documentation for various email applications are provided, we recommend using the Outlook Web App to access your mailbox. Click here for detailed instructions.

File storage and sharing

Every time we share information, whether through email, USB stick, fax, or other transmission services, there is a risk that it will be intercepted by unauthorized parties.

Faculty and staff who access UBC Systems or share UBC data have a responsibility to protect this information, especially when it is confidential or sensitive. Learn how to share files securely.

How do I connect to VPN?

Some files and applications may require connecting to the UBC network through the Virtual Private Network (VPN). A Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection uses encryption to protect data and prevent others from listening-in on the data that is transferred between your computer and the campus network.Accessing your work files depends on where the files are stored, which may vary from department to department.

1. Ensure you have myVPN software installed.

UBC-Provided Device

If you have a UBC provided laptop, the “Cisco Anyconnect” app will be available in the task tray (right hand corner of your screen). If not, you can download the myVPN Cisco Anyconnect software here.

Personal Device

If you are using a personal device, after confirming that your device adheres to our Privacy Checklist, you can download the myVPN Cisco Anyconnect software here.

2. What address do I type in?

After downloading and starting up the Cisco Anyconnect application, you’ll be prompted to input an address to connect. Each campus has their own URL.

Vancouver - myVPN2.ubc.ca

  • General UBC Services: Use this for general UBC services, such as Management Systems Portal (MSP) and Personnel Absence Tracker (PAT).
  • Department Specific Services: myVPN.ubc.ca – Use this for department specific services. Access to department specific services requires users to include a suffix to their username, for example “CWLname.enrl”

Okanagan - myvpn.ok.ubc.ca

  • General UBC Services: – Use this for general UBC services, such as Management Systems Portal (MSP) and Personnel Absence Tracker (PAT).
    **Note the “OK” for Okanagan.
  • Department Specific Services: Please view instructions available here on how to connect.

3. When to use VPN

It’s highly recommended to students, faculty, and staff to use VPN when performing UBC related work off-campus and when using non-secure wireless.

When VPN is needed:

  • Accessing UBC department file storage services
  • Accessing department shared drives
  • Logging into Management Systems Portal
  • Logging into Personal Absence Tracker
  • JIRA
  • Accessing the HR management system (HRMS)
  • Accessing the Financial Management System (FMS)
  • Accessing Personal Attendance Tracking (PAT)
  • Confluence

UBC Library users should use the EZProxy server to access UBC Library Databases remotely

When VPN is not needed:

To enhance your network experience, the following activities should not be performed on VPN:

  • Streaming videos (e.g. YouTube, Netflix, and etc.)
  • Listening to audio (e.g. YouTube, Spotify, and etc.)
  • Checking your Email/FASMail at mail.ubc.ca
  • General web browsing
  • Using Video Conferencing Tools
  • Accessing Canvas
  • Using the Student Service Centre (SISC)
  • Using the Faculty Service Centre (FSC)
  • Workspace
  • Sharepoint
  • Okanagan’s Netstorage (web access to F, K and P drives)
  • Accessing the IT Help Desk

4. How do I log-in to administrative services?

You may need access to various administrative systems depending on your role. Here’s a few enterprise-level systems that you can log-in to with your UBC credentials:

5. Home Use Program (HUP)

All UBC faculty and staff with FASmail accounts are eligible for Microsoft’s Software Assurance Home Use Program (HUP). This program enables you to obtain a licensed subscription for Microsoft Office 365 applications to install and use on your non-UBC owned computer.

Note that at UBC, we are regulated by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), which requires us to protect personal information from unauthorized collection, use, or disclosure. In support of the law, UBC policy requires that all mobile devices—whether UBC-supplied or personally-owned— used for University Business be encrypted. Additional details on this can be found at www.privacymatters.ubc.ca


Available to all UBC employees with a FASmail account
Microsoft Office 365 subscription with 30% off

Registering for HUP

  1. Go to microsoft.com/en-us/home-use-program
  2. Enter your UBC email address (emails ending in @ubc.ca or @mail.ubc.ca only)
  3. Click Submit
  4. Check your inbox for an email from Microsoft, with a link to subscribe to Office 365 with 30% discount

Staying Connected

Use our recommended tools for audio conferencing, virtual meetings and instant messaging. Please note that while all of the above tools handle information securely, some of them store information outside Canada. From a privacy perspective, it is preferable to use these tools in non-recording mode. If you wish to use these tools in recording mode, special requirements may apply; see the documentation for details.

1. How do I connect with my colleagues?

While UBC IT recommends Skype for Business and Zoom Video Conferencing, we’ve included some short and sweet how-to guides to some other tools below:

Skype for Business

UBC Provided Device

UBC provided devices should already have Skype for Business installed. You’ll need to open the program to get started.

Personal Device

For personal devices, you’ll need to download the Skype for Business Application here. We recommend downloading the application instead of using the Web App.

Logging In

UBC Provided Device

Since you’re on a UBC provided device, it will automatically log you into the application.

Personal Device

You’ll need to follow the instructions listed here under ‘Non-EAD machine’.

Setting up an audio conference call

Visit these tips on how to set up your video and audio for Skype for Business.

PC: Set up Skype for Business on Windows
Mac: Set up Skype for Business on Mac

Setting up a video conference call

Follow this handy guide on how to set up a Skype meeting within an outlook meeting invite: Setting up an online meeting in Skype for Business

Using instant messaging

You can use Skype for Business to instant message your team and stay in touch.

PC: Setting up Chat in Skype for Business on Windows
Mac: Setting up Chat in Skype for Business on Mac

Who to connect to for help

Contact the IT Service Centre if you need assistance.

Zoom video conferencing

Zoom video conferencing is another tool we recommend to use to stay in touch with your colleagues.

Creating a Zoom account

UBC has a campus-wide license for Zoom as a platform for delivering courses online and larger meetings. Zoom is an easy-to-use video conferencing platform that offers a wide range of features. Do not sign up for an account directly through Zoom. For faculty who want to use Zoom for delivering real-time lectures, please reference these step-by-step instructions.

For staff who want to use Zoom for meetings and collaboration, please request your Zoom account by emailing av.helpdesk@ubc.ca. You will receive an email from UBC IT's AV Help Desk to confirm your Zoom account.

Help Files/Videos

Other Tools

Tips for Using these tools

Getting ready for a meeting:

  1. Use a tool that your team is most comfortable with. Don’t change tools if you have something that works. Make sure all participants take time to download the software and have its setup on their computers ahead of your meetings.
  2. Have a backup plan. Sometimes, technology doesn’t work. Instead of trying to fix it, just switch to your backup. Have multiple modes to connect – video conferencing, audio-only and a telephone dial-in number.
  3. Test! Find a buddy to make a test call with. Practice sharing your screen and ensure that it is received clearly on the other end.
  4. Find a quiet place to setup, make sure the background (behind you) is suitable to be on screen.
  5. Use headphones to alleviate echo, feedback and help you hear more clearly. If you have one with a built-in mic, even better.
  6. Book your meeting with additional time at the end. Online meetings can sometimes take longer to get set-up and going and having a buffer is helpful.
  7. Be on time.

Running/hosting a meeting:

  1. Do a roll call. It will ensure you know who is on the call and allows everyone to test their audio and video connection.
  2. Have a clear agenda or purpose. Be explicit about calling the meeting to order and adjourning.
  3. Create ample space for people to chime in. It’s easy to sit in the background on a conference. Asking people directly for input often works best.
  4. If you are presenting, keep it simple, don’t share a lot of detail. Participants will likely have small laptop screens and may find it difficult to see what you are presenting.
  5. Follow up with notes and actions via email after the meeting to ensure everyone is clear on the outcomes and next steps.

If you run into problems:

  1. Don’t panic! Ensure you have a backup plan and stick to it. Don’t spend precious time troubleshooting.
  2. If things really go south, its sometimes better to cut your losses and reschedule, then to waste time trying to fix the issue.
  3. Don’t try to switch solutions on the fly – your participants may end up in limbo.
  4. If you find your connection cutting in and out at home, it might be your internet connection or home wireless quality. Try switching off your video to see if that improves the connection. You can also switch to phone participation, and do more testing to determine the issue.

Staying Vigilant

Working remotely requires increased information security. We’ve made it easy by listing the top 5 things you can do to keep your information secure:

Take the Privacy Fundamentals Training

Protect your password(s)

    Passwords are an important part of our digital lives. Have you ever considered the implications of what would happen if your password was stolen? Click here to learn how to protect your passwords.

Protect your (and other’s) personal information

    There are a number of ways you can protect your personal information and others. View this quick guide to learn more.

Don’t get phished: recognizing phishing and spear-phishing dangers

    People who want to steal your information can be clever. A common trick used by cyber criminals is to send you an email, which appears to come from someone you trust. Phishing messages can come in many different disguises, from sophisticated deception to obvious fraud. Read more about phishing, spear-phishing and how to protect yourself against both.

Report suspicious emails

    Remember: “Think before you click the link”. If you have any concerns about a message or link, don't open the message or click the link. Instead forward it to security@ubc.ca.

Your IT Toolbox

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