Working from home: week two is a wrap

Posted on March 27, 2020 by

Wrapping up another week of working from home (WFH). It has been a full on roller coaster ride, with lots of highs, lows and a few twists! I’m absolutely loving how everyone is coming together from across all the divisions and all three campuses. I don’t like the proliferation of new tools being brought into the community. Although, I understand the need to be agile and come up with innovative solutions, the fact remains that supporting these tools can be a challenge and there are always concerns with privacy and security of our information.

The biggest issues that are surfacing during this WFH experience is the sometimes spotty reliability of both internet and video conferencing. We have come a long way, and I would say 90 per cent of my online meetings this week were really good. The community is still learning and there is clearly some etiquette and rules of engagement that need to be communicated, absorbed and practiced. Everyone is doing great though. I have seen and heard patience, empathy and an openness to adjust/learn.

I am sure many of you have seen videos like the following, and I am positive they resonate: Consider this a little break from the day-to-day and a funny reminder and learning opportunity on how to work remotely. A few tips to remember when on a conference call:

  1. Remember to mute and unmute.
  2. Use a headset or conferencing device.
  3. Get your lighting right, watch yourself and what you are doing and blur your background.

Check out this resources for more info:

In terms of reliability, I was all good until today, Friday, March 27. Generally speaking all my meetings have been good quality, with a few people not adopting proper technology or having bad connections.   This morning I had some issues and checked my network speed. My download speed is about one third of what it is normal and anecdotally others have said the same thing. I suspect our internet service providers (ISPs) are throttling and sharing the capacity. I still have enough, but need to monitor what the kids are doing (Netflix, Discourse, videogames and more streaming). If you check and enter in your ISP or a service you use, you can see if they are having issues reported. This is a lot like what many of your local utilities do in crowdsourcing information on outages. If you check the ISPs you can see that pretty well all day (and night) they are above the normal threshold where the site declares an issue. So, if you are having trouble with your remote desktop protocol (RDP) or virtual private network (VPN) connection through the University of Toronto (U of T), let us know and we will check, but it might be an issue with your local ISP. Overall though I would say the ISPs are doing an amazing job.

That’s a wrap…. off to an online after work social meeting that some people on my team invited me to. Thanks to everyone at U of T and the broader higher education IT community who have rolled up their sleeves and achieved great things this week.

The health and safety of our staff, students and faculty remain the number one priority of the University. Read the latest official updates from the University here.