Tips on Being Your Family’s IT Guy or Girl

If you work in IT in any capacity, whether you’re a freelance coder or you’re the IT tech for a huge company then you’re also the tech person for your entire family by default.

In many ways this is OK, because you love the subject, you love problem-solving and the satisfying pings of success that you get when you get your gran’s laptop out of its bootloop.

But, as with most things, there is a downside – you get a phone call at 9.00pm from Gran because Skype won’t work and she wants to talk to your cousins in Australia before they go to school. Gran is in St Albans and you’re there, offering IT support in Manchester and the clock is ticking and you just want to watch Game of Thrones…

This is how you cope with being family tech support :

First of all, make sure everyone has LogMeIn

This service has probably saved countless marriages and familial relationships because it cuts out the “What can you see on your screen now?” conversations that end up with, well, we all know how they end up. Of course, if a laptop isn’t booting up it’s no good, but for helping Gran to install Skype (again), it’s just genius.

Next, don’t talk down to anyone

This is your mum, remember. She might not know what defragging is, but she brought you into the world and brought you bacon sandwiches when you were revising. Non-techie people just have different skill sets and minds, which is why there’s a specific role for IT support. You wouldn’t talk down to your CEO when he can’t tell the difference between a download file and a document file.

[Read also: Don’t Call Help Just Yet, You Can Fix These Computer and Tech Problems Yourself]

Pin down what your relative wants

You should talk to your relative first to establish a brief. If they want you to create a website using some fancy programme that they just can’t understand, you may be ready for a mammoth task when it turns out they’ve been panicked by a WordPress template. Instead of spending hours designing it all for them, you just need to give them a quick walk through.

Make sure you set a schedule

If you have a family that wants everything done yesterday and they get all pouty when you can’t give up your evening or drop by on your way home from work, then you need to be firm. Explain roughly how long the task will take (and why) and say that you don’t have that much spare time until Saturday. Your niece wants you to put in a new laptop hard drive for her, which should take an hour at the most, which is why you can do that job sooner. It saves a lot of arguments.

Just say no sometimes

This is maximum awks, but sometimes you really can’t do it. Don’t just offer a blanket refusal, though; refer them to a colleague or a contact who you know will be able to help them. It’ll work out better in the long run.

[Image via: Google Images]

One Response

  1. Oliver