Working remotely


This measure supports physical distancing on our campuses in an effort to reduce the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Our focus remains on maintaining a safe and healthy environment while providing support to our students.

We are not requiring employees to work from home, although this may change depending on guidance provided by Northern Health, the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

If you have questions or concerns regarding implementing remote work plans, Human Resources will be able to guide you and will continue to develop additional information to support these efforts. Please send any questions or concerns to hr@unbc.ca.


Workday and hours

When working remotely under these exceptional circumstances, unit leads, chairs, and staff are encouraged to consider the following:

  • Develop a work schedule following the spirit of the principles for remote working established by the University.
  • Communicate that the regular work schedule may be flexible for either personal or work-related reasons.
  • Have regular check-ins with teams and individually
  • To the extent possible, continue to work a 35-hour work week. Overtime may be worked if authorized by the unit lead.

Tips for remote teamwork


Technology considerations for working remotely

Video Conference Options

Find out how to access files, chat with your team, and more.

Computer usage

Where possible, employees should use UNBC-supplied standard computers. It may be periodically necessary to bring equipment to the UNBC main campus in order to perform maintenance. Such requests will likely be made by the UNBC personnel responsible for maintaining your technology. Learn more

Register your equipment

  1. Visit https://our.unbc.ca
  2. Log in using your UNBC credentials
  3. Click on the “Working from Home Inventory Tracking” link on the bottom right side
  4. Follow the directions there

You can contact the IT Service Desk if you need help at support@unbc.ca


Employees whose positions are not suitable for remote work

For some, working remotely will not be feasible, as we have operations that are essential in maintaining our physical locations and student services. In those cases, employees should come to work as normal. Unit leads and chairs are encouraged to work with these teams or individuals to promote good hygiene and social distancing practices. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Setting up workspaces or meetings with clients at least two metres apart.
  • Taking advantage of technology as an alternative to face-to-face meetings.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces including reception desks.
  • Limiting the use of shared equipment and adjusting work schedules with staff to avoid high traffic periods if appropriate.

We remain committed to the health and safety of those who remain on campus, which is why we will continue with our efforts around enhanced cleaning and measures to support social distancing.


Expenses and Costs

Employees should not incur additional costs associated with working remotely.


Health and safety

More on employee health and safety

Workspace and ergonomics

Employees should conduct an assessment of their workplace and discuss ergonomic considerations or concerns with their supervisor. 

Any work-related incidents or injuries should be reported through your supervisor through normal reporting procedures.

To make the remote working environment as ergonomically comfortable as possible, please refer to our ergonomic resources.

WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC coverage will continue to apply for employees who are directed or approved to work from home. WorkSafeBC coverage is limited to work-related injuries occurring during the approved work hours and assigned duties. Employees are encouraged to follow safe work practices and to promptly report any work-related incident that occurs at the home work site to their supervisor.

Incident reporting procedures

Should an incident or injury occur whilst you are working remotely reporting procedures remain the same in that your supervisor and the safety office need to be advised, especially if you become injured.


Fraud Awareness

Working remotely means you may be using different tools to communicate. With that, the potential exists for scammers to try to take advantage of you. UNBC has been inundated with “spoofing” emails – messages that appear to come from an individual working at UNBC, but are actually not. Please be careful when reviewing your e-mails, especially on devices such as your mobile phone that only display a sender’s name, not the full e-mail address. (You can usually see the sender’s real e-mail address if you click on the name.)

Be sure to pay attention to the warning that now appears on all e-mails originating from outside UNBC. And, if you have any doubt, verify with the sender of the email (through a different method of contact than what is listed in the spam e-mail) that they are indeed trying to reach you.


Privacy and security

Managing Information

Whether a UNBC employee works onsite, remotely, or at home, UNBC is obligated by policy and B.C. law to protect personal privacy. If paper records are lost, or inappropriately accessed, please email privacy@unbc.ca. To assist in providing a secure remote working environment, refer to our privacy guidelines.


Privacy guidelines for privacy and protection of personal information

UNBC is obligated by the Privacy and Access to Information Policy and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to protect personal privacy. When working remotely or from home, employees need to rely on accessing technological security measures that are in place at UNBC to ensure we protect the personal information of all members of the University community.

The following will assist faculty and staff as we shift to working remotely in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Paper vs. Electronic Records

Employees working remotely will access and use electronic versions of records whenever possible. Only take paper records home if they cannot be accessed or created electronically from UNBC drives and services.

Employees working from home and accessing electronic records remotely must do so over a secure network. Do not use external hard drives or USB sticks to transfer personal information from UNBC to any location off campus unless approved by your supervisor and the Information Governance Officer. UNBC uses the VM Ware Horizon Client to provide you a virtual desktop to access information from UNBC remotely. Please find more information here:
https://www.unbc.ca/information-technology-services/virtual-desktop-unbc

Use of Paper Records

If an employee requires the use of paper records to work from home, keep the records safe while in transit and at the employee’s home, and ensure they are returned to UNBC. Create a file list indicating who is “checking out” paper records from UNBC, and when, and make this file list available to all faculty and/or staff in the work unit to allow the University to keep track of records in its custody and control.

If paper records are lost, or inappropriately accessed, notify the Privacy Office at privacy@unbc.ca if the records contain personal information.
Transport and Storage of Personal Information

Do not leave paper records and electronic devices (laptops, USB drives, and smartphones) containing records unlocked and/or unattended while in transit. Encrypt electronic devices containing personal information before removing them from UNBC. Store records containing personal information in a secure location when left unattended.

Use of Information Technology

British Columbia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act does not permit the use of information technology services that store personal information outside of Canada. To ensure UNBC meets its legal obligations, employees who are working from home must only use information technology resources approved for use by University Information Technology Systems. Using cloud services that store personal information outside of Canada such as Gmail, Google Docs, or Dropbox is not permitted.

Video-conferencing services (Zoom, Skype) allow recordings of your remote meetings; however, these services operate outside of Canada. Limit the sensitivity of personal information discussed while recording on these platforms, especially regarding any matters that could potentially damage the reputation of an individual. Avoid recording a meeting on these platforms until you receive prior written informed consent from all participants and all third parties that will be discussed in the meeting.

If you are unsure about whether a service you would like to use is compliant with B.C. Privacy legislation, please contact privacy@unbc.ca for support.
UNBC Training and Resources

For more information on how to manage personal information on and off campus, please refer to UNBC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act page.

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia has a guidance document to navigate working from home.

Privacy Breach Protocol

Working from home or remotely can increase the likelihood of inappropriate access to or disclosure of personal information. If you have disclosed any personal information inappropriately to a third party without consent, please complete the protocol below.

Please see the instructions below and complete all five steps to report a privacy breach:

  1. In addition to reporting this breach to privacy@unbc.ca, report the breach to your supervisor. Report the breach to the itsecurity@unbc.ca if a data device has been lost or stolen or if a system has been compromised.
  2. Which record(s) were breached or which device was lost or stolen? Whose personal information was included in the record(s) or on the device(s)? Being as specific as you can, what personal information was included in the records or device?
  3. Notify any individuals affected by the breach. Send a copy of your notification to privacy@unbc.ca
  4. If an unintended recipient can be identified, request that unintended recipient returns and/or destroys the record depending on the medium. Please provide evidence that you have made this request by forwarding your request, and any responses you receive to privacy@unbc.ca. If you cannot determine who has unintentionally accessed the information, please state this.
  5. What strategy or action plan will you use to reduce or eliminate the potential for the same breach to occur again? Include this plan in your report.