While IT departments are charged with keeping the technical side of a business up and running, a new poll shows a number of employees think their IT colleagues can help with much more than fixing computers.

"Can you help me fix my toilet?" and "How do I clean cat hair out of my computer fan?" were just some of the bizarre — but real — requests reportedly made to IT department help desks according to a survey by staffing firm Robert Half Technology.

The chief information officers who were surveyed noted a number of unusual and strange calls for help that have come through their department, including:

  • "How do I remove a sesame seed from the keyboard?"
  • "I need help drilling holes in the wall."
  • "I need you to install a video monitoring system."
  • "Can I turn on the coffee pot with my computer?"
  • "I dropped my phone in the toilet. What should I do?"
  • "I want to download software to change an audio file to video."
  • "How do I pirate software?"
  • "We need you to fix the microwave in the lunchroom."
  • "Can you recommend a good dry cleaner?"
  • "Can you help us get money out of the vending machine?"
  • "My car's cup holder is broken. Can you fix it?"
  • "Can you help me repair a washing machine?"
  • "Where can I find a video of Elvis Presley online?"

"Beyond their entertainment value,these unusual requests demonstrate the strong customer service skillsnecessary to work in the help desk and technical support fields," said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology. "The best IT professionals are composed and empathetic — and, of course, have a good sense of humor."

A number of employees would benefit from a computer 101 class based on some of the questions asked, including:

  • "I'd like to download the entire Internet so I can take it with me."
  • "How do I start the Internet?"
  • "Will you show me how to use the mouse?"
  • "My computer won't turn on or off." (The computer was unplugged.)
  • "How do I send an email?"
  • "How do I click on different files?"

The study was based on surveys of 1,400 CIOs from companies across the United States with at least 100 employees.

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance business and technology writer who has worked in public relations and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter. You can reach him at chadgbrooks@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.

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