Working Remotely

Here you will find some recommendations and procedures for working remotely.

The section on making a remote desktop connection to your office computer is incomplete. In particular, I am lacking instructions for connecting to a Linux desktop from a Windows or Mac computer.

Please note that there are many different ways to work remotely and the notes and suggestions here are not the only way. If you have other tools or procedures that work well for you, please consider editing this topic or get in contact with me and I'll add the information.

If anyone has any questions, suggestions, corrections or additions please edit this topic or let me know at dale.plummer at

See also Zoom Operating Procedures.


  • Before it becomes necessary, practice working remotely.
  • Before installing the Big-IP Edge VPN client, make sure that the older Pulse VPN client is not still installed. Remove it if it is.
  • If you can avoid it, don't use a remote desktop connection. Remote desktop connections tend to be slow and prone to disconnections. Instead, install the software you need on your laptop or home computer, make a VPN connection, and map or mount the shares you use. Hopefully you won't have much data stored directly on your office computer.
  • You don't need to make any connection to use VUMC email and calendaring. The Outlook online app ( works pretty well.
  • Consider using something like GitHub, GitLab, or similar for storing and versioning your code.
  • Conferencing tools:
    • Skype for Business - VUMC's current preferred tool for online meetings
    • Zoom - Zoom is a platform for video conferencing and online meetings. We have a limited number of licenses that are shared among the members of the department. Contact Dale Plummer if you need to host a Zoom meeting. You don't need a Zoom license to attend (not host) a Zoom meeting or if the meeting you are hosting will last no longer that 40 minutes.
    • is a free tool for hosting audio only meetings
  • Brightspace is the online teaching tool of choice according to the guidance provided by the University and Graduate School. Use Brightspace for teaching.
  • Skype for Business (SfB) notes (thanks Lynne)
    • "Skype for Business" and "Skype" are not the same thing. Be sure you are using "Skype for Business".
    • Features. SfB has audio, video, screenshare. I’ve never used the video, so can’t vouch for it, but audio and screenshare are perfectly adequate.
    • Your private meeting room! Every VUMC employee essentially has his/her own personal Skype meeting space; mine, for example, is (or, at least, was, until I started pushing buttons)
    • Outlook email client. If you use Outlook as your email client, setting up a SfB meeting is super-easy: Go to your calendar and click “Home” in the top ribbon. Look for “New Skype meeting”. Click and go. Basically you’ll get a link with your Skype meeting room, plus call-in number. Call-in numbers are ‪615-875-7000 & 855-521-9827 for people who may be able to join by phone but not web. Callers-in will need your conference ID, which also is personal to you. Set up a meeting and you will know what it is forever (unless you push buttons and reset it by accident – ask me how I know smile
    • Other email client. If you do not use Outlook as your email client, you can get your meeting room URL and conference ID by going to Sign in with your VUNetID & PW. You can send your URL / conference ID out manually, rather than using the Outlook way.
    • Joining a meeting. Copy the meeting URL into a browser window to join a meeting. You might get a pop-up that asks you to click OK or Join or some-such. Click it. This should open a pop-up for your audio options and for the meeting itself. Going this route, if you close the meeting box, you can get kind of stuck. As far as I can tell, you have to close all open browser windows with any Skype-related content, then re-open another one and copy the meeting URL. You should then get the pop-ups (pops-up?) again and be able to proceed.
    • Joining a meeting: Skype for Business web app. To avoid the possible problem of losing your meeting, you can install the SfB plug-in. When you copy the meeting URL into the web browser, ignore the pop-ups and instead look at the web page that loads. Click on “Join using SfB Web App instead”. The first time you do this, follow step 1 on the page that reads: “Download & install the SfB Web App plug-in”. Subsequently, you can skip to step 2, click “Join the meeting”. A dialog box will open asking if you want to open URL blah-blah; click that. A new window will open with a dialog box to enter your credentials. Every time I do this, I get a message returned in the window: “Your account is not configured to join meetings.” If this happens to you, make sure, in the “User name” box, you have your email address and not VuNetID. Enter your password and click “Join the meeting”; this works for me.

  • Before it becomes necessary, practice working remotely.

Prepare to work remotely

  • Make sure you have installed the software you need on your laptop or home computer (e.g. R, RStudio, Microsoft Office). Hopefully, you will not need to make a remote desktop connection to your office computer. Such connections are resource intensive and tend to be slow and prone to unplanned disconnections.
  • Get familiar with software tools that ease the process of working remotely. Some tools are suggested below.
  • Enroll in Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). This is a requirement for making a virtual private network (VPN) connection to the VUMC network.
  • Install and configure VUMC's Virtual Private Network (VPN) client. See The VPN client is called "Big-IP Edge VPN client". Test your VPN connection before it is needed. A VPN connection is required to access VUMC resources (e.g. network file shares, most VUMC web applications, library resources and journals, Skype for Business (for virtual meetings).
  • If you must make a remote desktop connection, install and configure the software needed on your laptop. Make the necessary settings on your office computer to allow it to accept remote desktop connections. How this is done is system dependent.

Connect to VUMC resources

  • Always connect to the VUMC VPN first
  • Map or mount the network file resources (shares) that you commonly use
  • Tools to connect to your Linux workstation
    • From Linux
      • ssh - Open a command line console on the remote computer. The command line can be used to run, for example, R jobs that you rather not run on your laptop.
      • scp - Copy files between the local computer and remote computer using secure protocols
    • From Windows

Configure your desktop computer to accept remote desktop connections

  • Windows
    • Open the Windows settings app and search for "remote desktop setting"
    • Under "Enable Remote Desktop", set the switch to On
  • Linux
    • Open the System Settings app and click on "Sharing" in the navigation bar
    • Click on "Screen Sharing"
    • Set the screen sharing toggle to ON
  • MacOS
    • ???

How to make a remote desktop connection to your office computer's desktop

A VPN connection to the VUMC network must be made first.

  • Connect to your office Windows workstation's desktop from a remote computer
    • from a Windows remote computer
      • Run the Remote Desktop Connection App
      • Enter the remote computer's name in the Computer box and click Connect
      • For credentials enter your VUMCid and ePassword. Type the VUMCid as "vanderbilt\vumcid"
      • If a warning pops up about the "certificate", click continue.
    • from a Linux remote computer
      • Launch the Remmina Remote Desktop Client
      • Configure and establish a remote desktop connection to Windows
        • Click the + icon to create a new connection profile
        • Give the profile a meaningful name
        • Set the Protocol to RDP
        • Server: the computer name
        • User name/User password: your VUMCid and ePassword
        • Domain: vanderbilt
        • Set the Color depth to "True color (32 bpp)"
        • Click the Save button to save the profile
      • Double click on the saved profile to initiate a connection to the Windows computer
    • from a MacOS remote computer
      • If not already available, download and install the Microsoft Remote Desktop app
        • Click "Add PC"
        • Fill in the PC name in the Add PC dialog. Other items can remain default.
        • Click the Add button
      • To make the connection, click the icon containing your computer's name
        • Be sure to enter the username beginning with "vanderbilt\"
        • If a certificate warning comes up, click the "Continue" button

  • Connect to your office Linux workstation's desktop from a remote computer
    • from a Windows remote computer
      • Download and install VNC viewer (
      • Run VNC viewer
      • Create a new connection
        • Click on File...New Connection...
        • VNC Server: name of computer to connect to
        • Name: any meaningful name
        • Leave everything else default
        • Click OK
      • Click on the conn
    • from a Linux remote computer
      • ???
    • from a MacOS remote computer
      • ???
Topic revision: r3 - 10 Mar 2020, DalePlummer

This site is powered by FoswikiCopyright © 2013-2022 by the contributing authors. All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
Ideas, requests, problems regarding Vanderbilt Biostatistics Wiki? Send feedback