Tech support analyst Chase Freedman has spent almost 10 years working at the ITS Service Desk in a variety of support roles. Six weeks ago, Freedman would have been found providing hands-on, face-to-face tech support for students, faculty and staff as a member of the ITS Service Desk’s Walk-In support services.
Now, due to the social distancing restrictions necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Freedman, along with the rest of the Walk-In staff, finds himself working from home on chat support.
“My first thought when I heard we were working remotely was that this was the worst-case scenario that we had talked about in staff meetings, and I wasn’t looking forward to it,” he said.
“I know myself well enough to know that I will never be someone who prefers to work from home. I need to get out of the house, I need that morning routine, I need a change of scenery. Hygiene and social skills are starting to go. I fear I’m becoming feral,” Freedman said with a laugh.
Some learning curves
While the reallocation of Walk-In personnel to chat support was fairly seamless due to the ITS Service Desk’s prior planning and a previously-established remote work structure for both its Phone and Chat Services, there have been some learning curves to maneuver even for an experienced staff member like Freedman.
“I am a very visual person and have a much easier time fixing a problem I can see and get my hands on,” Freedman said. “Walk-In Services is focused on in-depth, hands-on computer troubleshooting, so to work chat meant broadening the scope of what I had to know and how to support it.”
Remote’s inevitable limitations
Freedman, who had previously provided tech support over the phone before his tenure in the Walk-In, said that the previous phone experience helped him as he got used to providing chat support.
“For a while, I hadn’t had to think about an incoming student’s affiliation relative to whether or not they were yet Onyen-eligible or how to help someone working remotely who can’t get their built-in webcam to work,” he said. “It feels like there has just been information tucked in the back of my brain for the last year that I haven’t actually had to pull up until now.”
The most challenging part of his experience, however, has been dealing with the inevitable limitations in service brought about by the COVID-19 lock-down.
“We are having conversations with people we wouldn’t have had to have before such as ‘I have a CCI computer that is broken and I’m at home right now, what do I do?’ and the answer is they have to call Lenovo or Apple rather than suggesting they visit us,” Freedman said.
“The repair options are still there; they are just not as convenient as visiting the Walk-In,” he said. “Not every student will wind up in a workplace with an IT service after graduation, so I guess for them, it is kind of a peek into life after ITS as well.”
Despite the challenges, Freedman has, for the most part, settled into his “new normal.”
“No person is an island,” he said.
“Even those of us who are introverts still need somebody, even if it is that one friend at work you like talking to or having a constant stream of students and staff to help and talk to — we all benefit from having the company of another person,” Freedman said. “I miss people.”