How to Shift to a Virtual Office Setting

Updated March 27, 2020

This guide is intended to assist you in the shift from working in an office setting to a virtual office setting. Employees can adjust to these differences with planning and intentional time management. This resource is designed to help you navigate this shift while maintaining productivity, trust, and communication.

Select a Space

  • Establish a dedicated space to work. It should be safe, ergonomically suitable, and free from distractions, including animals, children, or other adults.
  • Ensure internet and telephone connectivity are sufficient to support communication and access.

Professional Reminders

It is expected employees working remotely will follow all University policies including, but not limited to:

  • Attendance and time entry
  • Employee’s code of conduct
  • Confidentiality/Data Protection – Adherence to all IT policies, including confidentiality and data protection

Maintain Communication with Your Supervisor

  • Obtain approval from your supervisor for your work schedule: start time, rest and meal breaks, and stop time.  Do not deviate from the work schedule without prior approval from your supervisor.
  • Consider scheduling check-ins with your supervisor, preferably via a video Zoom session or at minimum by phone to ask questions, communicate issues, establish priorities, and share face-to-face time with your supervisor.
  • Establish a schedule with your supervisor to pick up mail and drop off other documents from the office on a regular basis (If necessary).
  • Continue to hold meetings and participate in department meetings via a videoconferencing platform such as Zoom or at minimum by a conference call.
  • Collaborate in environments such as Microsoft Teams.
  • Learn to use storage, sharing, and collaboration tools such as Google Drive and Box to share documents with your supervisor and co-workers (If necessary).

Equipment, Network, and Collaboration Tools Setup

  • Identify the equipment you need to do your job (e.g. laptop, headset, camera).
  • Work with your supervisor to discuss any equipment needs.
  • Secure your home wireless network. Set up remote collaboration tools (e.g. Google ChatZoomSlack).
  • Determine if you’ll need access to department shared drives. 
  • Move important documents to cloud storage (e.g., Google Drive, Box).


  • Follow UMass Cybersecurity Guidelines and all IT policies, including acceptable use of information technology resources.
  • Securely store and protect data on devices and in the cloud.
  • Never download personally identifiable information, sensitive FERPA information, or health information to your personal device. 

Retrieve and Receive Voicemail From Offsite

Web Phone Manager allows you to manage your university voicemail messages, mailbox recordings, and mailbox settings over the Internet. 

From an Off-Campus phone

  • Dial 413-545-1000

  • From the University Main Voicemail Greeting, Press # and log in with your voicemail box number (normally the last 5 digits of your university phone number, e.g., 5-xxxx) and your security code.

Tip: You can record an Out-of-Office Greeting for your voicemail box to provide any special instructions to your callers about your contact preferences and response time expectations. Instructions for recording can be found here: