Due to the escalation of events over the last few weeks we are now almost all in a state of remote working. It is important that we use the best remote working practices to effectively use technology to work together effectively & collaboratively.
Remote Desktop Servers (RDS)
It has become apparent over last few days that when too many people use a remote desktop server, it can slow it down the point where it becomes difficult to work.
With this in mind it, is important to log off now when using the remote desktop server, and not to use the RDS when there are alternatives available.
Logging Off the RDS
It is important to log off the RDS rather than simply disconnect. If you are left logged on, you will use up resources and memory that other users and applications could use.
To log off, right-click on the start button on the bottom left hand side of the screen and select sign-out.
When you should use the RDS
The remote desktop server may have a number of applications on it, such as Benefactor. Priority needs to be given to people who use these applications while others should use alternatives where possible.
Alternatives to RDS
You do not need to log onto the RDS simply to use Office 365. You can use Office 365 either as a web application through a browser such as Chrome or Firefox, or by installing it on your desktop or laptop.
Microsoft 365 Web Applications
You can access Office 365 through a web browser simply by going to https://www.office.com. This has the advantage of not needing any software installed on your machine, and not needing to worry about where you are physically located. You can check your emails via https://outlook.office.com or you can access web versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
It is important to log out from the portal after you have finished, if you are using a shared computer.
Microsoft 365 Desktop Applications
A lot of you have Microsoft 365 licenses that allow you to download the office applications. This means that you can install the full suite of Office desktop apps on 5 different devices. To do so simply log into https://www.office.com and click on “Install Office” on the right-hand side, if available.
You can install office on Macbooks as well as Windows devices. These don’t have to be work devices.
Microsoft Teams is a new application that is part of the Microsoft Office suite. As with most Office applications in can be used either as a web application or a desktop application. Teams is the replacement for Skype for Business and allows activities such as chat or video conferencing.
It is probably best to install Teams on your laptop as this will give you the most functionality without putting strain on a central server or network.
TGPL can offer online Teams training either direct to users or a ‘train the trainer’ model. Please contact us for details.
OneDrive is both an application that you can install on your computer and the location in Office 365 storage for where you can store your documents. It is Microsoft’s equivalent to Dropbox and is a great place to store documents that only you and a few other people will be using.
Storing documents in OneDrive means you don’t have to worry about where you are working from as it will always synchronise the OneDrive cloud storage. You can then access it from another location, either with the desktop app, or by going to https://www.office.com.
SharePoint is similar to OneDrive, but involves a central storage location that everyone accesses, rather than a storage location specific to individual users. SharePoint can often be looked on as an alternative to a normal file server and has the advantage of being cloud based, which means it is secure and accessible from anywhere. Gallery Partnership specialise in their own version of SharePoint – Charity ShareCentre – and can implement this as a project.
SharePoint also has a major advantage of allowing several people to work on the same document at the same time, functionality that you do not have with a standard file server.
Virtual Private Network
It is possible to connect into the work network by connecting to the firewall via a virtual private network (VPN). Connecting in this way allows users to access file shares and other network resources, in much the same way that they would if working locally.
Using a VPN to connect rather than logging into the RDS has the advantage of being simpler and not using up the resources on the server.
- To send emails, simply use Outlook, either installed on your device (home, work or otherwise), or as webmail on https://outlook.office.com.
- You can download the Office applications from https://portal.office.com.
- To work on a document that only you, or a couple or other people need, consider using OneDrive.
- For more collaborative work, you can store work on SharePoint.
- To simply access files on the server, we can set people up with a secure VPN to the firewall.
- If you need to use applications such as Benefactor, log into the remote desktop server.