On Favours

I had intended for my next post to be about the infrastructure of my one-man IT department, but when I came into the office this morning, an unfamiliar computer was sitting on my desk with a Post-It attached. It explained that this was my boss’s home computer, and could I please figure out why it wasn’t booting?

It may be something that we all have to deal with from time to time: fixing computers for co-workers. Like it or not, we’re often the only ‘computer guy’ known to them, and their first port of call. ‘It’s no problem, is it? Surely you can have a look at lunchtime? It’s not urgent, it’s just that my son can’t do his homework…’

I tend to accept this as a part of the job, and try to be accommodating, but I’ll prioritise these tasks like any others. I’ve never had any specific instruction about how to handle these situations, but I find it best to deal with them as an actual part of my job, in all respects, implied if not specifically listed in my job description. So I don’t expect any compensation for doing these tasks, and I’ll work on them in company time, but not in my own time. If I’m busy, they may sit around for a while before I get to them, and I’ll make sure the person knows that. And if a fix is going to be complicated or cost money, I’ll hand the machine back and explain what’s wrong with it and why I couldn’t fix it.

Essentially, I treat any employee machine that’s brought to me in the same way as a machine that originated inside the company (though I’ll order new parts or a replacement for a company machine if it’s necessary). I know that with this comes a risk of people taking advantage, but I don’t think it’s happened yet, and by dealing with these tasks as any other part of the job, on company time, I can at least ensure that they are taking advantage of the company’s resources, and not me personally.

What other approaches could someone take to this scenario?


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