Home working FAQs

Covid-19: Home Working FAQs – IT&D

Please note this guidance will be updated on a regular basis.

Last updated 30 April to include guidance on using WhatsApp and Zoom.

Like many businesses across the country, there is now a high proportion of council staff working from home due to the Covid-19 crisis. This is putting unprecedented demand on our IT networks as well as pressure on IT infrastructure across the country.

The Information below will help you understand what remote working options are available and what you can do to make sure critical services are able to continue.

At present we are focusing on ensuring that all staff identified as essential workers across the council can work remotely.

Speak to your line manager to confirm if you have been identified as an essential worker. This will be agreed by each directorate DMT.

What’s the best way of working from home?

If you are not required to be on site and have a home broadband service you may be able to work from home. However, the demand for remote working is placing unprecedented pressure on our IT systems. To help keep our IT systems running there are some important consideration:

  • If you have a Citrix account and your own device, please use this method to connect. If you haven’t used Citrix from home before you will need to request an RSA token. To get an RSA token, please log a call on My Service Hub (Go to: Make a request/ accounts and security/staff accounts/remote access) or call the IT Service Hub on 01273 292001.
  • If you have a council laptop, please confirm with your line manager that you are an agreed essential worker. Using your council laptop will use Direct Access (DA for short). Because of constraints on Direct Access only essential workers should connect using this method between 9am and 5pm..  

If you have both a council laptop and a Citrix account, do not use your corporate laptop to connect to Citrix unless this is absolutely your only way of connecting onto the council network and you are an essential worker.

What are the other options for accessing my email?

There are various ways of accessing your email and other basic work tools which do not put pressure on the network:

  • On your corporate iPhone
    If you have a corporate iPhone you have access to Outlook and a range of other tools including Skype for Business. (Apps can be downloaded from the Comp Portal)
     
  • On your own personal phone and/or personal laptop
    Outlook Web Access (OWA) has been enabled to provide access to email on personal mobile phones and personal laptops/devices. At present, there is a security limitation and it’s not possible to view attachments but it’s still possible to read, reply and forward emails etc. Instructions to do this are on the Wave here.

Can I print from home?

In most cases, if you have a corporate council laptop, these devices will connect via USB to your home printer, or wi-fi if you have a wi-fi enabled printer.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to print from Citrix or Outlook Web Access, when working from home.

Because of the vast range in print devices, IT&D Service Hub cannot provide support for home printing.

How do I stay in touch with colleagues, clients and customers?

Skype for Business

Skype for Business is available if you are working from home on either a corporate council laptop, Citrix, or Office365 via OWA. It is also available on corporate iPhones (you’ll need to download it from the Company Portal) or it can be downloaded as an app to your personal smartphone.

Skype for Business can be used for the following:

  • chat/Messaging
  • audio calls
  • video calls (depending on connectivity)
  • host and attend virtual meetings

With any of the following people:

  • colleagues at the council
  • anyone that works for either ESCC or SCC (ie organisations within the Orbis partnership)
  • any other professional that also uses Skype for Business within their organisation and has been enabled to connect with us.
  • it can also be used with members of the public. They will need to download a web app in order to use it. Invite them through Outlook using their personal email account and ensure it is also a Skype meeting.

Tips to keep Skype for business running efficiently:

  • only use Skype for business when 2 people or more need to connect - if it's just two people, use a phone.
  • use less bandwidth by...
    • making audio calls rather that video calls wherever possible
    • mute your mic when you are not talking
    • where video call is needed, minimise the picture

Read further guidance on using Skype effectively

WhatsApp

WhatsApp is now available on the corporate iPhones. If you have an issue downloading WhatsApp, please log on to My Service Hub (Go to: Make a request/accounts and security/staff accounts/remote access) or call the IT Service Hub on 01273 292001.

However, please bear in mind that Service Hub are currently prioritizing critical requests and may not be able to respond as quickly as usual.

WhatsApp should only be used to communicate with citizens and third parties when there is no alternative effective means of communication. Personal and sensitive information should never be sent via WhatsApp. Staff must not use WhatsApp on a corporate device for business related internal communication.

The council selects the enterprise technology it uses carefully to ensure that corporate information and records are stored securely, are backed-up & are accessible and meet our compliance obligations. Unfortunately, WhatsApp does not meet our requirements and it should not be used for internal business use.

Zoom

Zoom has had a lot of press coverage in recent weeks, but there are serious concerns about Zoom’s data security and privacy measures. These include vulnerabilities allowing ‘Zoom bombing’ (the unwanted intrusion into a video conference call by an individual, which causes disruption) and links to an increase in phishing emails sent to emails addresses used to set up Zoom accounts. With this in mind, there are a number of Zoom do’s and don’ts:

  • do not use Zoom for internal meetings – Skype is more appropriate for this
  • do not use Zoom for hosting meetings with third parties on any council laptop or desktop
  • do not create Zoom accounts using your council email account or register on any council laptop/desktop or download the client to a council laptop.

If you are invited to an external Zoom meeting:

  • do use the Zoom app on a council mobile phone, if possible. Alternatively, use the free browser version of Zoom on a council laptop. You will need to log a call on My Service Hub and ask for access to a restricted website (Ie Zoom). This will enable you to access to the meeting via the web browser.
  • do ask the host to ensure that the meeting is private by requiring a password to access the meeting and by using the ‘Waiting Room’ to control the admission of participants.

Please read the guidance from the National Cyber Security Centre to ensure that you stay safe and secure online and reduce the risks associated with using Zoom.

In the event you need to host a meeting and Zoom is the only solution, you could use a personal device but you must follow information security protocol, ensure you only send the link to the individuals invited, and use the waiting room and password facility.

How do I divert work calls to another number?

You can divert your office extension to your personal mobile, landline or corporate mobile phone. This can only be done from an office phone but can’t be restricted to only operate in office hours

Instructions are below:

Call Forward/Divert

  1. Log into your office phone
  2. press Call Forward button and enter number you would like the calls to divert to. (The button will go green.)

You may need to press the right arrow key to show 2nd menu if Call Forward is not displayed on front screen. (And remember to put 9 in front of the number)

To take Call Forward/Divert off

  1. Press right arrow key to show 2nd menu
  2. press the green light to take divert off.

If you are not in the office, please ask a colleague to do this for you. If this isn’t possible, log a call with the IT Service Hub. Given the number of calls service desk are experiencing this task will not be prioritised, should Service Hub be able to assist, this will only be to enable call forwarding - they will not be turning the functionality off.

Any incoming calls will then ring on whichever phone you have diverted your extension to

When making a call dial 141 before the number to withhold your personal number.

Can I have a new Citrix account?

Citrix is currently at capacity and no new accounts are being created.  This is a situation under constant review and any changes will be at the discretion of senior leadership.

Can I have a laptop?

At time of writing, all new laptop requests have been paused. We are continuing to roll out some laptops to identified essential workers, but there is limited resource available to do this and each request must be signed off by senior leadership and go through your IT&D Business Partner.

Can I have a new mobile phone?

At time of writing, all new iPhone requests have been paused. Any urgent requests for a corporate mobile phone should be signed off by senior leadership and go through your IT&D business partner.

As an alternative please see the instructions above as to how you can access emails through your personal device.

What can impact my home broadband speed?

There are a number of additional factors that can impact broadband speeds:

  • where your router is located and what is around it can affect speeds. Wi-Fi signals dissipate quickly through thick materials such as walls, floors and get reflected when surrounded by glass
  • your router can develop errors, which can impact connectivity to your broadband network. This can be resolved by turning off your router, and turning it back on again
  • if you are using a telephone extension cable from the router to the phone wall socket – remove it. Extension cables can reduce your overall speed by over 50%!
  • if you are experiencing poor Wi-Fi – consider using an Ethernet cable directly connected to your router and laptop / PC.
  • use of microwave ovens can impact Wi-Fi signal strength.
  • if you are working from home and are sharing the Internet connection with others in your household be mindful of what they may be doing – are they:
    • watching streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon?
    • online gaming?
    • downloading large amounts of content from the Internet?
    • using lots of devices such as phones, tablets, laptops, SMART TVs, Sound Bars etc. on your home Wi-Fi network.
    • conducting remote meetings / calls for their own place of work?
    • accessing bandwidth intensive applications from their own place of work.

How can I test my home broadband speed?

A good site to test your home broadband service is https://www.speedtest.net. Make sure that you are not connecting using a council issued laptop as running through Direct Access may skew the results.

If you are not getting the minimum guaranteed speed promised by your supplier, give them a call and ask them to investigate if there is a problem. Most will also offer compensation after a period of time.

Where should I put my wi-fi router?

  • Find a central location: Place it in the middle of your home rather than at one end. Solid surfaces slow down wi-fi speeds and this reduces the number of walls it has to go through
  • make sure it’s away from thick walls: The thicker the wall, the harder it is for the wi-fi signal to pass through
  • don’t put it on the floor: Try and position it on a shelf or table. Wi-fi signals go down as well as up, so if you put it on the floor, a proportion of the signal will go through the floorboards
  • ensure it’s visible: The more you can see your router, the better the signal. If you put it in a cupboard, wi-fi speed and distance the signal can travel will reduce
  • avoid windows:  Place the router near a window and some of the signal will be sent outside.
  • keep it away from your TV: Metal objects can reflect your signal, dispersing it
  • steer clear of fish tanks: It sounds strange, but water can absorb the wi-fi signal, reducing the distance it can travel.

Accessing emails away from work

Outlook Web App (OWA)

It’s now possible to access your work email and calendar on your personal phone or other device using the Outlook Web App (OWA).

Using or viewing your work email on your personal devices is entirely optional and access has been made introduced to support you in your work if you find it helpful.

OWA allows you to read, send, forward, reply to emails, and view and make meetings in your own calendar.

However, like many mobile apps the functionality is reduced compared to the full (desktop) version of Outlook. For example, popular office attachments will be viewable  (including but not limited to Word, Excel and PDF documents), but adding or downloading attachments will not be available.

This is for information security reasons as it is not appropriate to download work documents onto a personal device.

Getting access to OWA

When setting up OWA you’ll need 2 devices:

  • your personal phone or other device that you want to view your work email on
  • another computer or web enabled device that is not connected to the corporate network, like your home laptop or desktop computer

Read full guidance on setting up OWA access.

Further information and support

If you’ve read the above guidance and need further help setting up the Outlook Web App, contact IT & Digital using MyServiceHub.

Information security at home

Remote working

Remote working allows our colleagues to continue delivering services, be productive and ensure services still operate, when staff are based at other locations. This article will help you understand some of the risks that remote working brings and provide you ways on how to protect against these.

When working from home you should:

  • keep in touch with your colleagues
  • take care of yourself with regular screen breaks and water
  • ensure the safety of yourself, data and devices

The biggest risk to our remote workers’ devices and information are:        

  • loss or theft of device and information
  • loss of credentials
  • tampering

What can I do to prevent these things from happening?

Loss or theft

To help prevent loss or theft, you should:

  • never leave your device unattended or unlocked
  • not leave confidential documents in view of others
  • be aware of your surroundings

Being overlooked and overheard

It's easy to accidentally disclose something with good intentions, but you should be aware of the implications that come with this and know how to prevent this.

To help to prevent being overlooked or overheard, you should:

  • wait until you're in a private area to have a conversation about sensitive topics
  • think about who might overhear you when discussing topics in person or by phone - do you need to refer to individuals by name, or might initials, or identifiers be appropriate?
  • consider who might be looking over your shoulder while you’re working
  • speak to your manager or Purchasing to purchase a privacy screen - these make it difficult for those not sat at your PC to see your screen

Loss of credentials

To help prevent loss of credentials, you should:

  • not write down credentials
  • not store passwords on your computer, without added protections - if your device is compromised, so are your passwords
  • avoid the use of public Wi-Fi

If you must use public Wi-Fi avoid using this when completing certain transactions like logging in or working on sensitive documents.

Tampering

To help prevent tampering, you should:

  • not leave your workstation unattended, this reduces the chance of someone being able to physically tamper with your machine
  • avoid using public Wi-Fi
  • be vigilant when opening email from unknown sources

Using Skype effectively

Are you getting the most out of Skype?

Skype can be a really helpful tool to support you in working more efficiently.

You can use Skype to:

  • chat instantly with colleagues wherever they're located
  • hold voice and video calls
  • host and attend virtual meetings, which is a great time saver if you're having trouble getting everyone together.

The council is modernising and beginning to deploy Office 365 products. This will include some exciting changes and new tools, and will enable us to work in a more flexible and modern way.

Skype for Business replaces Office Communicator. Skype for Business will let you connect with co-workers wherever you are either through instant messaging, audio call or video call.
These following Skype for Business guides will assist you as you get to grips with Skype's tools and functions.

For technical issues contact: ict.servicedesk@brighton-hove.gov.uk