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There are a number of tools University employees can leverage to stay connected with colleagues and students while working remotely.



A laptop or desktop computer and Internet connection are required. Test your connections and access to resources ahead of time. Ensure all operating systems and applications are up to date.

University-owned laptops and portable computers

Employees with a University-owned computer are permitted to use the computer from their home, as normal.

Personal computers

As many business-critical applications are available via the Internet, University employees will be able to perform most of their duties using a personal computer. 

Work from home securely

During the coronavirus crisis, you may be asked to work from home to limit exposure to other people.

 It is important that your home computing environment is secure.

Remote access to resources

Virtual Private Network (VPN)
All University of Waterloo staff, faculty, and students have VPN access. It is recommended that you use VPN only when necessary (e.g. if you are accessing a service or application that requires VPN).

IST provides a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service to the campus community to facilitate telecommuting and other access to campus-based network resources. 
The VPN uses the public Internet to connect a remote computer, such as a home computer or a laptop, securely to the University of Waterloo network. The underlying principle is to make the remote computer seem as if it were physically connected to the campus network.

Examples of systems that do not require VPNExamples of systems that require VPN
  • Skype for Business
  • Request Tracker (RT)
  • Office 365
  • Workday
  • Confluence
  • WCMS

Accessing all campus network resources

Users will need to install the VPN client software in order to get access to all campus network resources. In this case, you would run the Cisco AnyConnect client software, then do what you need to do to access the resource. For example, you would start the VPN client before running site-licensed software on your laptop that needs to connect to our license server, before mapping a network drive, or before starting your Remote Desktop client.

  • The VPN device network address is: "cn-vpn.uwaterloo.ca"
  • The "Connect to" location for the AnyConnect client is: "cn-vpn.uwaterloo.ca"
  • There are now two options under the 'Group' drop-down menu: UW-Campus and UW-General-Campus. If you experience difficulty connecting to UW-Campus or cannot reach some on-campus resources, please use the alternate profile, UW-General-Campus. 

To learn more about this service, confirm required setting, or view installation guides, please visit our VPN service catalogue page

Collaboration tools available to all University employees

Microsoft Office 365

Create, collaborate, share

All University students and employees have a Microsoft Office 365 account that provides anywhere access to commonly used collaboration and productivity applications (e.g. Word, Excel, OneDrive). Create, collaborate on, and share your files quickly and securely. Log in to your account at https://portal.office.com to:

  • Access web-based versions of these applications

  • Download desktop versions of these applications to your personal computer, tablet, or mobile device

Alternatively, you can visit your App Store to download Office 365 apps to your mobile device. 

Visit our Microsoft Office 365 website to learn more or get support. 

Virtual meetings with Teams

With Microsoft Teams, you can quickly schedule and participate in virtual meetings that support audio, video, and sharing. 

Request a Team

Complete the online form to request a Team.

Join a Teams meeting

Join a Microsoft Teams meeting from your calendar, via dial-in number and conference ID, or sign in as a guest on the web.

See our Teams live training sessions to learn more. 

Meetings with other University of Waterloo employees

Initiate a meeting with members of your Team or start an instant meeting with another University employee, directly. 

Meeting with guests outside of the University

Teams lets you invite people outside The University, including those who don't have a Teams license. You'll need their full email address to invite them.

Accessing Microsoft Teams

Skype for Business

All University employees and students have access to a basic Skype for Business (S4B) account that offers many collaboration options, including:

  • Instant messaging  
  • Skype-to-Skype voice and video calling  
  • Skype meetings/conferencing  
  • Desktop/screen sharing

Employees with a Skype for Business telephone extension are also able to make or receive calls from on-campus extensions and off-campus numbers.

Skype for Business using Windows Remote Desktop

If you are using Skype for Business on a machine at home while using Remote Desktop to connect to a workstation in the office: 

  1. Start a Remote Desktop session. 
  2. Select 'Show Options'. 
  3. Select 'Local Resources' at the top. 
    1. You may need to go under 'Local Devices and resources' and select 'Other supported plug and play (PnP) devices'.
  4. Under 'Remote audio', select 'Settings'. 
  5. Set Remote audio playback to 'Play on this computer'. 
  6. Set Remote audio recording to 'Record from this computer'. 
Skype for Business with telephone extension

Note: Phone extensions cannot be redirected to a telephone number. The Skype for Business application is required to make and receive calls on your extension.

You have a Skype extension if your phone extension begins with a "4" e.g. 44358

Using a device that is  capable of running a Skype for Business client (i.e. iPhone, Android phone, Windows PC, or Mac), you can perform all telephone  and collaboration-related  actions,  regardless of your location (i.e. VPN not required).  

Please see the installation and configuration articles for additional information and support.

Calling 911 from off campus using S4B 

If you are using Skype for Business from off campus and need to call 911 for an emergency, it is highly recommended to call 911 from another device, such as a home phone or mobile device.

If you do call 911 from Skype for Business , if possible, you will need to:

  • Inform the regional services of your actual location  
  • Call UWaterloo Police Services (519-888-4911) to inform them that you have called from off campus and that campus police services should not go to your typically designated office

Skype for Business without telephone extension

You have a traditional phone and extension if your extension begins with a "3" e.g. 34358

Using a device that is capable of running a Skype for Business client (i.e. iPhone, Android phone, Windows PC, or Mac), below is a list of the actions you can and cannot do:

Collaboration features that do work with Skype for Business "basic":

  • Skype-to-Skype calls
  • Instant message conversations with other Skype for Business users  
  • Create and participate in Skype Meetings  
  • Perform screen sharing with other Skype contacts  
  • Start video chatting (if one or both parties have a web cam)  

Collaboration features that do not work with Skype for Business "basic":

  • Access your OfficeLinx voicemail over the telephone from the Skype client  
  • Cannot call via extension or telephone number  
    • While you cannot dial by extension, you ca n call via voice to any other Skype user by searching for the person you want to communicate with, select the arrow beside the phone icon, and choose Skype Call  

  • If you need to contact someone at an extension on campus you can use any other available telephone you have and contact them through the standard methods of either dialling 519-888-4567 and speaking their name to the automated attendant, or entering their direct University extension


Traditional phones

There are many ways to make and receive phone calls/messages from a traditional, office-based phone. 

Customize your voicemail message

Set up a voicemail message letting callers know how best to contact you (e.g. mobile or home phone)

Get an email notification when you miss a call

Configure your voicemail settings to receive an email notification when you miss a call to your office phone

Alternatively, you can access your voicemail from a telephone or mobile device

Note: Individuals cannot forward their extensions off campus
Use an alternative

All employees have access to Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams. 

Skype for Business phones

Skype for Business (S4B) phone extensions can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection. Interested in Skype for Business phone? Contact your department telephone administrator to see if there are plans to migrate your department.

Install Skype for Business
  • The Skype for Business application must first be installed and properly configured.
  • The S4B app is supported on an iPhone, Android phone, Windows PC, or Mac. Please see the installation and configuration articles for additional information and support. 
  • Ensure the device has a functioning microphone and speaker
  • Use a headset when making/receiving a call on a laptop or desktop computer as it will provide better quality audio
  • Other options include:
    • Earbuds (i.e. those that come with your smartphone) may have a built-in microphone and are compatible with most computers
    • Using any headphones you have, but using your laptop's built-in microphone
Potential costs

Skype for Business is A VOIP phone solution, meaning it uses the Internet to operate.

Be sure to connect your device to a wireless network when using S4B to avoid using cellular data or incurring data overage fees.


Configure your email account
Access your email account

Duo two-factor authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your University accounts. Verifying your identity using a second factor (like your phone or other mobile device) prevents others from accessing your accounts, even if they know your password. Visit our Two-factor Authentication (2FA) website to learn more about your options and enrol your device. 

What if I have a Duo 2FA fob and I forget it at work? 

  • IST recommends that users set up the Duo mobile app on their smartphone

  • Contact the IST Service Desk and we will help get a secondary device set up

IT help and support

Need in-person assistance? Due to the developing COVID-19 situation, Information Systems & Technology (IST) has transitioned to providing IT support remotely. Please see our article about Common requests for in-person IT support for a list of requests and suggested solutions.

519-888-4567 ext. 44357

Did you know?

The W Store has printers, laptops, external drives, headsets, noise-canceling headphones, cables, and much more available for purchase. Can't find what you're looking for on their website? Email wstore@lists.uwaterloo.ca for assistance.

Faculty Specific Resources 

Additional Resources

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