Students, particularly grade schoolchildren, are absolutely overjoyed with snow days and the “staycation” they bring from classwork, pop quizzes, and homework. Adults may not share the same sense of glee, as they know that, snow or no snow, office work must still be completed.
In the event of a snow day and the rare instance when Penn closes due to weather, the University provides a number of services that make it fairly easy for employees to work remotely from home.
Faculty and staff can check their Penn email through web-based services such as Microsoft Outlook Web Access, and can access their work computers from home through tools like the virtual private network (VPN) and Remote Desktop (check with your school or center).
Penn+Box, a cloud-based file-sharing service offered through the Office of Information Systems & Computing (ISC), is useful, too. Available to full- and part-time faculty, students, and staff, the collaborative service enables users to save, access, and share files from a range of devices. It provides a default quota of 50 gigabytes of storage space and can be used in place of, or in addition to, a local file server.
“The great thing about Penn+Box is its flexibility,” says West Phinney, an IT Director with ISC’s Technology Support Services. “To access your Penn+Box files, all you need is an internet connection and your PennKey.”
Penn+Box users can share files, images, videos, PowerPoint slides, and other content securely, and control who has access to view or edit the material. Large data sets and images are shared as downloadable links, not email attachments, and the service has built-in commenting, tagging, revision control, and task-tracking tools.
Phinney says Penn+Box functions like the popular Dropbox file-sharing service, except that it has more collaborative features and the added benefit of a negotiated University contract that provides increased levels of security and protection for Penn data.
He recommends getting in the habit of using Penn+Box because “cloud-based collaboration services are increasingly going to be part of your normal work environment, in and out of the office.”
To sign up for Penn+Box visit https://upenn.app.box.com/login.
A free Penn+Box mobile app is also available for download for the iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, and other mobile devices.