What do you do when nothing works?

I’m afraid this isn’t some sort of existential question and, on this occasion, I’m not even speaking metaphorically.

I ask this question in its most literal sense. What do you do when all the things you rely on most in order to perform your job each day no longer work? 

More specifically, what do you do when you can’t send or receive emails, when you have no internet, none of your IT systems work, there’s no social media, no shared network drives, you can’t access any of your folders or saved documents and you can’t open a spreadsheet or type up a letter. You’d even resort to hand writing a letter if you could but you can’t because all the information you need is stored on your computer and IT DOESN’T WORK.

You try clicking on another icon but now all you have is a blank(ish) screen and the blue whirring doughnut of woe. You try to exit the programme but you’re too late. You’ve just killed anything else which may have been working, albeit to a limited extent, before you started this doomed task. And past experience tells you that your PC will attempt to perform it until either a) it’s confused itself to the point of physical meltdown, or b) you’ve given up and gone home.

You place your head in your hands.

You take a deep breath and try to forget about the pressing deadlines you’re now destined to miss.

You fatefully accept the consequences of missing those aforementioned deadlines.

You go and make a cup of coffee, queuing behind those colleagues who were smart enough to beat you to it.

You take another deep breath and then?


You pick up the telephone.

After all, it’s the only piece of technology on your desk which still works.

You dial a number, it rings, someone answers and you have a conversation. Excellent.

You make a decision, you make plans, you apologise, you arrange a meeting, you resolve a problem, you get some advice. You laugh in the face of adversity. 

You make progress and you do so quickly.  

But, most importantly, it’s also extremely satisfying to have a conversation. To exchange pleasantries and actually hear their tone of voice, those subtle inflections you would have been denied had you corresponded in writing. The joy of having one five minute conversation instead of ten email exchanges over the course of an hour interspersed between all sorts of other incoming and outgoing exchanges.  The pleasure of focusing your complete attention on one subject and one person.

It’s deeply satisfying.  So, why is it that I will only pick up the phone as a matter of course when every other option has failed?  Shame on me.

I'm not sure I know the answer to that question. Maybe it's because we answer one email with another email in an ever increasing cycle until the point that we realise we've cocooned ourselves into a self-perpetuating downward spiral of electronic isolation. Excusing it in the name of ease and efficiency. Only, thankfully, I've just been reminded that it isn't always easier or more efficient.   


Eat that IT.  

I know you make great things possible but I can still function perfectly adequately without you.   

Final score = IT: nil / Real World: 1

Last date edited: 11 November 2014

About this blog

Sarina Young

Sarina joined us in 2008 as our customer services co-ordinator. Among other things, she manages our national customer service team, complaints procedure and requests for information made to the Trust. She says that the most important thing to her is to be able to go home and feel as though she’s achieved something, however small that might be. Her job is hugely satisfying, widely varied, full of deadlines, immensely interesting, sometimes challenging and no day is ever the same, although some are surprisingly familiar!  

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