Employee Technology Tips and Resources for Working Remotely - March 27, 2020

Technology Tips for Working from Home

St. Kate's Faculty and Staff,

The move across the country to remote work for colleges and universities has put a significant burden on the world’s technology infrastructure, as well as our University’s infrastructure. This includes access to internet services and the cellular network. We have yet to experience the full load and already are seeing challenges across the networks. 

This note is intended to help you navigate technology needs while working in this remote world and potential challenges you may face. 


One challenge is the difference in capability between your home office and your St. Catherine University office. To make this transition easier, we suggest the following:

  • Your work laptop, monitor(s), and docking station can be brought home for you to set up in your home office. You are responsible for disconnecting and reconnecting equipment as needed.

  • Your work laptop should be your home office device. It contains our University software and is easily supported remotely from our Helpdesk if you should run into any issues. 

  • Headsets that may help you to be hands free with improved sound for your classes are available for you to pick up if desired. Reserve one out using our Coronavirus Technology Form.

  • Items that SHOULD NOT be removed include: 

    • Mounted or attached monitors or equipment.

    • Office furniture (chairs, etc.)

    • White boards/dry erase boards. 

  • Phones cannot be brought home, and unfortunately our system cannot consistently forward work calls to your home or mobile phone. We are working on a new phone system, which may roll that out within the next few months if testing goes well. Until then, we ask that you update your voicemail and check messages frequently. (You can access your voicemail by calling your extension and hitting *).

Meeting Tools

The University has two primary virtual meeting tools. If you have not already, we recommend you have practiced using the one(s) appropriate for you and/or refreshing your knowledge about how to use the tools. It is important to note that heavy volume times will likely result in visible issues with connectivity, fuzzy pictures, or sound issues. Be familiar with the tools so you can understand if the problems can be resolved or need to be managed.

  • Google Hangouts Meet is used for most meeting and class purposes. Visit Google Hangouts Meet for a cheat sheet on the primary capabilities, including setting up a meeting, joining a meeting, recording a meeting, and managing the sound.

    • Hangouts Meet is integrated into your Google calendar and can be added by selecting “Add conferencing” when you create a new meeting invite. 

  • Collaborate Ultra is used primarily for Brightspace/D2L integrated online classes. Visit Collaborate Ultra - Getting Started for information on using this tool, or complete the Coronavirus Technology Form and include your course details for setup.

Use best practices for meetings:

  • Set up and test your connections and equipment in advance.

  • Use a headset with a microphone, if available.

  • Unless you are speaking, mute your audio to avoid distractions and background noise.

  • Try not to interrupt other speakers. Consider using chat to insert an idea without disruption.

  • Check your video to make sure the viewable area around you is neat and appropriate for work. Maintain a work appropriate appearance.

  • When facilitating a meeting, invite people to participate instead of asking open questions to prevent overtalking by several participants.

  • Be prepared for connectivity challenges by one or more persons. Know your alternative actions and attempt to move forward without potential resolution for all.

Chat Tools

A quick and easy alternative to phone calls and emails is Google Chat (similar to texting). This may be your best starting point for small groups and short interactions. During periods of high traffic, Chat will likely be your most reliable form of communication.  

  • Review the Google Chat quick reference guide for information on how to setup and use chat and its features.

  • You can access Chat from your left navigation in email or open a chat window from your browser by going to Chat.google.com    

  • Chat is a great tool for working with a team.  It’s similar to being in a virtual office where you can see who is at their desk and ask them a quick question.

  • Similar to texting, you can chat with one or more people and quickly jump to a video call through your PC without having to look someone up in the directory or setting up a meeting.

  • Chat rooms allow teams to work together on projects, share documents, and instantly add video meetings. This feature is only available when using Google Chat from your browser (chat.google.com or select “Chat” from Google apps on your chrome browser). All other chats will also appear in this window.

Understanding and Dealing with Connectivity Challenges

Due to high volume usage nationwide, bandwidth will be in short supply, which may be periodic or lasting. Largely these issues are outside of the University’s control and are dependent on your remote working space or on the cloud software which is being used. 

It is important during this time that we are empathetic to each person’s unique circumstances and remain flexible in how to be as accommodating as possible. Here are some suggestions to help make this easier.

  • Home internet: Your home internet may prove challenging, especially when it is shared with others. Here are some suggestions to make your experience better:

    • Know what is running on your internet and remove anything unnecessary. For example, turn on a radio rather than streaming on your laptop.

    • Close unnecessary windows on your computer. Depending on what is open, you may have windows constantly updating in the background.

    • Remove extra devices such as webcams and use your laptop camera and sound.

    • The University’s coronavirus info website page has recommendations for those without internet capabilities (see “Other Resources” at the bottom of the page).

    • Additional suggestions for testing and improving your network are available on the University’s  coronavirus FAQ (see Classes and Academics).

  • Managing classes/meetings: Video requires a lot of bandwidth. Some people may not consistently be able to connect. Here are suggestions to help when this occurs:

    • Be empathetic to people who struggle to connect; they likely are experiencing a high degree of frustration themselves. Allow 5-10 minutes max to work through issues, and then move on or decide to record and send materials later.

    • Allow extra time at the start of meetings to allow people the time to work through their issues. After a reasonable time, stop waiting and suggest alternatives for them to catch up after the meeting.

    • Put materials on Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides. People can call into the meeting and view these materials online to follow along. Accessing these web resources does not upload and download video, making this a much less taxing option.

    • Record meetings if not everyone can connect. This will allow those who were not successful connecting to catch up on their time when their connection improves.

    • Keep meetings precise and use alternative tools such as email or chat to stay connected to people who may have less bandwidth.

    • Remind students they can request a laptop through our Coronavirus Technology Form if they do not have one or are having issues.

    • While an iPad or phone can connect to a classroom, a laptop provides more functionality and is the only option when presenting or facilitating a meeting.

How to Get Support

Not sure what to do? Here is how you can get help:

  • Visit ServiceNow to access hundreds of self help articles; we’ve included a sampling of popular articles below. Simply type in a key word and click on the article of choice for step by step instructions. ServiceNow can be accessed from the University website by clicking “My St. Kate’s” and selecting “Faculty and Staff.”  ServiceNow is a key link at the top of the page.

  • Need technical assistance? Your best option is to complete the Coronavirus Technology Form.  IT has a team online resolving, responding, and tracking these tickets.

  • Call the Helpdesk at 651-690-6402. Phone capacity issues and staffing limitations exist, so if your need is not urgent, please complete the form above.