Techies are social turkeys at Christmas

One third of office workers avoid sitting next to IT support at Christmas parties, according to research

IT staff come bottom in the popularity stakes, with one third of office workers admitting that they would least like to sit next to their IT support colleagues at a Christmas party.

A survey by e-learning company NETg found that staff avoid social encounters with IT staff in case they "talk shop", or are too introverted.

Accountants emerged almost as unpopular, with 29 percent of their colleagues preferring not to sit next to them at a Christmas party. Personal assistants or receptionists secured the popularity vote, with 42 percent of colleagues choosing to sit with them in order to get gossip.

But as IT becomes increasingly central to all businesses, IT professionals face the challenge of becoming better communicators. "Although this survey has been carried out with the Christmas spirit it does highlight that IT staff face a challenge to change people's perceptions," said Nigel Howarth, vice president of marketing at NETg. "Staff who occupy roles that are traditionally people-facing were perceived as more friendly or easy to get on with, which is not necessarily a true reflection."

IT staff have traditionally been isolated in back offices, which has gained them the reputation of being unfriendly. But now that their roles have become more visible, the study indicates a need for IT support to improve their human interaction skills.

"Unfortunately much training provided for job roles like IT or accountancy currently tends to focus on the core job function and softer skills like communication or team building are seen as less critical," said Howarth.

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