Are You Wasting Time Solving Simple Problems?

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According to recent research from Computer People, an IT recruitment consultancy in the United Kingdom, on average IT staff waste 20 hours monthly solving simple problems that office workers should be able to work out on their own. The research includes 500 IT professionals and is intended to measure how much time IT staff spend on simple questions that could be better spent on more important IT issues.




Computer People said the top five time-wasting problems for IT staff are:





  1. Why isn’t my monitor working?
  2. My printer’s jammed—could you make it print properly?
  3. Why can’t I send any more e-mail?
  4. Could you format this for me?
  5. Why won’t it let me save onto a floppy disk?




These problems are usually simple to solve, and Computer People said that 86 percent of the time, problems like these do not call for IT professional support. But the research showed that 64 percent of IT professionals complained about how often they are called upon to work on “broken” monitors that are simply not plugged in. Likewise, 52 percent said they are often asked to clear paper jams in printers, and 54 percent said they are often asked to change toners. Around 46 percent said employees ask them for help when they have simply run out of e-mail storage space, and 35 percent said they were called on when office workers did not take the disk lock off before trying to save their documents.




Carole Hepburn, commercial director for Computer People said there is no excuse for office workers not to spend some time thinking through these issues. “The amount of time IT professionals spend each month solving the simple problems that today’s workers should be able to do themselves is equivalent to nearly three working days,” she said.




To get around the time-wasters, Computer People recommends IT staffs identify the top problems that waste their time and document their solutions. Then, provide office workers with a list of these problems and solutions so they can attempt to work through them on their own.




But don’t forget that sometimes, the problem really does call for an IT professional’s help. In these instances, remain calm, even in the face of a panicky worker, and try to keep your language as non-technical as possible.




For more information, see



Emily Hollis is associate editor for Certification Magazine. She can be reached at 

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