Misconceptions about IT
IT is a Highly Misunderstood Position
From computer support specialists to database administrators and developers, IT jobs are growing faster than the average career (and with much higher salaries). Coupled with the boom of tech jobs in general, the IT industry is one sector that doesn’t seem to have been adversely affected by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although millions of Americans are still working from home in some capacity, it’s possible your job has an IT department or team, even if you don’t have a firm grasp on exactly what they do every day. Until you have a problem or need their support, the IT department could be shrouded in a veil of mystery and confusing emails about software refreshes and compliance updates.
So what kind of misconceptions are IT professionals dealing with in regard to their jobs? To find out, we surveyed over 1,000 IT pros and non-IT employees about their working environments and possible frustrations. Read on for a closer look at how many IT experts feel seen by their non-IT coworkers; the general perceptions of the average employee; the most common requests IT pros are getting; and how their jobs have adapted to the surge in remote work.
- 69% of IT professionals believe that their bosses and coworkers actually know what they do.
- 20% of employees had asked IT for help with the copier, 19% had asked for help with a printer, and 13% had asked for help with an appliance in the kitchen.
- 53% of remote workers had asked an IT department staff member to meet them at their home.
Putting in an IT Request
While more than half (54%) of IT professionals believed their non-IT co-workers either completely or very much understand their roles and responsibilities, 30% said non-IT team members only somewhat understood their jobs, and 15% felt they didn’t understand them at all. Similarly, 31% of IT professionals said their non-IT co-workers only somewhat appreciated the work they did, and 16% were convinced they didn’t appreciate it at all.
Far more than troubleshooting computers and resetting passwords, IT teams can manage everything from website production to cloud migration and cybersecurity. In many cases, IT departments are an integral component in the changes to internal business processes or systems in addition to the work they do to maintain existing applications and resources. Overwhelmingly, 69% of IT pros surveyed said they work more than their bosses or co-workers think they do, and 56% said their bosses see them as less important than they really are.
Although 82% of IT pros said they’d been asked to resolve something that required a simple fix, nearly as many (80%) said they’d been tasked with resolving something outside the scope of their position. Three in 4 had also been asked to fix an issue related to a personal device or problem or to fix something that was a product of someone incorrectly following instructions. With so many requests for their services, 39% of IT professionals polled reported experiencing employees getting frustrated with them, and 37% said employees often prioritize their own problems over others. More than 1 in 3 IT specialists said they’d been told they took too long to fix a problem.
In and out of Scope
So which perceptions of the IT teams are valid and which aren’t? Most commonly, employees see IT departments as being responsible for maintaining the office network (74%), installing new programs and software (71%), and setting up computer hardware (64%), and IT pros said these are all within the scope of their roles. On the other hand, the misconception that IT employees are responsible for training new employees to use technology (47%), recovering lost documents or emails (43%), or creating the company website (35%) are outside their scope and incorrect. Other popular misconceptions also included setting up video or conference calls, writing computer programs, and ensuring compliance with quality standards.
According to non-IT professionals we surveyed, the most popular perceived responsibilities included working with computer networks (87%), office computers (83%), the internal Wi-Fi (77%), and the office internet (75%). Another 70% of employees also admitted they believe their IT teams are surveilling or monitoring their activity, including 35% who were certain, 18% who had evidence it was happening, and 9% who heard rumors about IT surveillance. IT pros surveyed admitted monitoring company emails was an appropriate request for their position.
Pulling in Tech Support
If one thing has been true for people working remotely, it’s that technology isn’t always your friend, and things going wrong can be absolutely exhausting. For IT pros, inbound requests have also changed depending on whether teams are remote or on-site.
While the most common requests to IT were around problems with internet connectivity, those were more common among people working on-site (54%) versus remotely (48%). In contrast, having problems with applications (47%), physical problems with computers (38%), problems with websites (42%), and problems with updates (32%) were all more common among teams working remotely. For many companies, the long-term shift to working from home means making changes to the way they’ve been thinking about and approaching the technical demands of increased digital collaboration, video meetings, and email communications. Nearly 70% of non-IT employees said their IT departments offer training sessions for hardware or software adoption, 64% of those said they always or often attend these IT department training sessions.
The Pandemic’s Effect on Tech Support
With the strain of remote work, 36% of employees surveyed said their IT departments were more accessible during the pandemic, though 51% said there was no change, and 14% said their IT teams were less accessible. As we found, companies with under 100 employees (48%) were the most likely to have more accessible IT resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. For some employees, in-person help has still been an option, with 53% of people working remotely saying IT came out to their home, 26% meeting them in the office, and 21% visiting the IT employee’s home. A majority of people working remotely (62%) acknowledged requesting an IT staff member meet them in person to resolve their issues.
Among these instances, the most common remote IT requests involved setting up Zoom or other video call platforms (47%), calling into a meeting (41%), setting up a second monitor (31%), and home Wi-Fi issues (20%). Still, some employees are taking steps to be more self-sufficient during the pandemic, including having informal training conversations with the IT department (49%), garnering more experience (46%), and personal research (43%).
Craziest IT Requests IT Workers Have Received
- “Fix a regular printer when I work with specific lab printers”
- “Help with home internet issues”
- “I was asked to go buy supplies from Staples”
- “Set up a new server in under a half hour”
- “Usually people wanting me to get their Facebook account back that they got suspended for violating community standards”
- “Updating 300 computers by the end of the day”
- “To fix a personal computer corrupted by adult material”
- “Someone thought their computer was broken, but hadn't turned it on”
- “Having to go to the owner’s house to fix his personal internet”
- “Clear my browsing history”
Understanding IT Support
For many businesses, the last year has been fraught with the struggles of transitioning to a completely remote work environment, and now, some businesses grapple with returning back to the workplace, a new, hybrid environment where some team members work remotely and others work on-site. While this transformation may be accompanied by some technological struggles, it also provides an opportunity for companies to take advantage of the digital space like never before.
At Reign, we’re here to help you capitalize on the era of online business with innovative web development and mobile applications. With a cloud-based infrastructure designed to create operational excellence, safety, reliability, and efficiency, we can handle all your online needs. And because every business is different, our teams prioritize what matters most to you to reach your audience and convert. Learn more online at Reign.cl today.
Methodology and Limitations
We surveyed 1,051 employed Americans, including 134 IT professionals, ranging in age from 20 to 76. 63% of respondents identified as men, 36% identified as women, and 1% identified as nonbinary or nonconforming.
Survey data has certain limitations related to self-reporting. These limitations include telescoping, exaggeration, and selective memory. We didn’t weight our data or statistically test our hypotheses. This was a purely exploratory project that examines how non-IT employees and IT professionals interact.
Fair Use Statement
You don’t need to submit a support ticket to share the results of this study. We simply ask that you include a link back to this page in your story for any noncommercial use so your readers have access to our full findings and methodology.