Instructions for remote working

Instructions for remote working

The purpose of this page is to describe remote access to IT services offered by the University of Helsinki and provide guidance in their use.

Many members of the university community will be working remotely. To ensure that everyone can do so smoothly, please keep the following in mind:

  •  The virtual desktop connection (VDI) is encrypted. If you use the virtual desktop, close the VPN connection (so that you do not reserve both licences for yourself).
    • Correspondingly: if you use VPN, close the virtual desktop (so that you do not reserve both licences for yourself).
  • You do not necessarily need the VPN connection for all work-related tasks (for example, e-mail and other Office 365 services, Flamma, Flamma workgroups and other services that require you to log in are encrypted and therefore secure to use as such).
    • You need the VPN connection for Efecte, SAP Talous, home, and group directories.
    • For more information on systems requiring a VPN connection, see this Flamma announcement.
  • If you need files stored on the Z or P drive (home or group directory), you can copy them temporarily to your own computer. If more than one user needs to work on the same document, it can be shared in the Office 365 service.
  • Ensure information security also when working remotely – read these instructions on information security on Flamma


Different ways to connect remotely to University of Helsinki services

The university has online services which are only available inside the university network for licensing reasons. These include e.g. the databases offered by the library and electronic newspapers. The services can be used on computers outside of the university’s network by establishing a secure connection (= VPN) between the home computer and the university server. 

Internet connection

  • If the network connections are unavailable, you can use your phone to share your mobile data connection (hotspot). Get acquainted with the instructions for your phone and take your time to test the connection sharing function so that you know how to use it if need be.
    For example, these are Google’s instructions for Android devices.

Virtual desktops

The VMware Horizon Client is installed on all university computers. You can also install it on your home computer or use the virtual desktop through the browser.

Remote access to home and group directories

You can establish a remote connection from your home computer to your home directory. This allows you to access and use the files and folders in the directory as if you were using a university computer. All changes made through the remote connection will be saved.

You can also establish a connection to a group directory.

Remote use of library databases

You do not need a VPN connection to use e-materials obtained by the University of Helsinki library if you search for the databases and electronic journals through the library search service Helka or the research guides. The material links in Helka and the research guides enable remote use.

Office 365 

Students and staff members using Office 365 also get the Office 365 ProPlus package free of charge, including the right to install the Microsoft Office suite on their own devices. 

  • If required, use the Office 365 service to share files with your group.
  • In addition to e-mail, you can use ordinary Office applications such as text processing (Word Online), spreadsheets (Excel Online) and PowerPoint (PowerPoint Online) through a browser. Please note that documents will be saved online, in the Microsoft Office 365 cloud service. However, you can also download them to your computer and edit them locally.
  • Keep data protection in mind – check the instructions on what you can handle in cloud services (Data security in cloud services – link to Flamma)

Software and software installations

We recommend that you install software when directly connected to the University network. Errors may occur over remote connections. 

Some of the licences acquired by the University include the right to install software on the home computer. Further information is available on Flamma

Web meetings

  • Teams
    Microsoft Teams is a versatile hub for teamwork that can be adapted to your needs. It provides both instant messaging and video call features between two parties as well as permanent discussion channels for different groups. You can use Teams either over a browser or with client software installed on the workstation.
    See also Teams tutorials from Suffeli
  • Zoom
    Zoom is a video communication service that allows all university staff and students to create meeting rooms and participate in meetings, seminars and conferences in real time through video and sound. Zoom is also suitable for remote teaching.

For the facilitation network’s instructions on remote facilitation, see the workgroup page of the facilitation network. (in Finnish)

See also Remote facilitation guide video series (in Finnish only) in Suffeli

In addition to video and screen sharing, are you in need of a whiteboard? 
You can use a simple Whiteboard view available in Teams and Zoom. These views are especially suited for ad hoc drawing but have quite limited functions.
If you need a more diverse whiteboard tool, we recommend Flinga.



Miro is an online collaborative whiteboarding platform that enables distributed teams to work effectively together.


Presemo is an easy tool for activating the audience in various events. Presemo helps you create questionnaires, collect feedback, test skill levels, create polls or, for example, organise group chats.
Presemo can be used with a browser or a mobile device.

Encrypted e-mail 

There are many ways to encrypt e-mail and attachments at the University. Separate instructions for each of these are available on the Helpdesk site. These instructions explain the differences between the methods and provide tips for choosing a suitable method. (NB! Only available in Finnish.)

Spam and phishing

Pay attention to spam and phishing when working remotely. Report any phishing messages that arrive in your Inbox to Microsoft, as described in the following instructions:

Remember to update your computer

The university’s laptops are updated outside the university network using OpenVPN. An internet connection alone is not enough because the computer does not receive the software and information security updates in this case. Even if your work does not require a VPN connection, launch the VPN connection at regular intervals in order to ensure the necessary updates.

Tips to make your daily work easier

  • On a Windows computer, you can launch each work object in a separate window and navigate between the windows using shortcuts.
    Also see Microsoft’s further tips. Try it and love it!

Windows key + tab

Launches the Task view.

Windows key + Ctrl + D

Adds a virtual desktop.

Windows key + Ctrl + right arrow

Toggles to the right between your virtual desktops.

Windows key + Ctrl + left arrow

Toggles to the left between your virtual desktops.

Windows key + Ctrl + F4

Closes your active virtual desktop.

  • Mac users can also create workspaces that make it easier to navigate between windows. Read Mac instructions.
  • Does your laptop’s display feel too small? Try to connect your laptop to your TV; at least the newest TVs have an HDMI connection. Try it!

Helpdesk landing pages to support remote work

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The instructions site of the University of Helsinki's IT Helpdesk helps you with IT-related issues related to your work. Let us know how we can improve our instructions. We greatly appreciate your feedback!

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