At home with computers.
No more canteen grub. Because the biggest advantage of computers is that they let you work from home.
More and more companies are now prepared to allow their staff to do their jobs from the comfort of their own homes for at least a few days a week.
And modern computers are now so powerful and versatile, they make it easier than ever before for go-getters to start a business of their own from their living rooms, studies or even a corner of their bedrooms.
If you decide to take the plunge and enter the world of home-working, then you'll probably need to buy some of the very best computing kit on the market.
These days, though, you shouldn't have to pay more than about pounds 2,500 for everything you need to get a fully-fledged business operation up and running.
Get a computer with a fast chip, an enormous hard drive and loads of memory. If you're working for yourself, you'll probably be running several applications at once on your machine, and that really soaks up the power.
You'll also have to work out the software you'll need. Almost certainly you'll want a word processor for writing letters and making notes; a database for logging all your contacts; and perhaps a spreadsheet for doing your calculations.
It's also possible that you'll want to use time organiser software for planning your diary, and even a presentation programme for creating really impressive reports and slide shows to impress your clients.
You don't have to buy all these programmes separately - companies such as Microsoft and Lotus bundle them together in their Office and Smartsuite packages at extremely reasonable prices.
It's also important to remember that you'll also need to buy a printer for your letters and hard copies of your work.
Laser printers have tumbled in price in recent years, but the quality of inkjet printers is now almost every bit as good, and they have the added advantage of also being able to print in stunning colour.
If you are working from home, you'll almost certainly want to send and receive faxes. It's worth remembering that once you have a computer, you don't need to spend money on an extra fax machine to do this.
If your PC has a modem fitted, then you'll almost certainly be able to receive and transmit your faxes directly to and from the computer. Some fax software will even double up as a voice answering machine, allowing you to record phone messages left for you on your hard disk.
You may well also want access to the Internet, so you can send and receive e-mail messages and look up valuable research information on the World Wide Web. And once you start using this system, you'll wonder how you ever managed without it.
If you are sending and receiving a lot of data on your computers, such as reports and messages to and from the office and faxes from your clients, then you may well want to get a second phone line installed to use purely as a connection for your computer.
For a relatively small outlay, this will avoid jamming up your main phone line, so keeping it free for those important business voice calls.
If you are moving a lot of data on your computer or spending a large amount of time on the Internet - say more than an hour a day - then you might even consider getting a super-fast ISDN telephone line installed. This will give you blisteringly fast access speeds, but it can be expensive and complex to set up the special ISDN modems involved and get them working properly.
If you have one of these super-fast phone lines, however, you'll also be able to take advantage of the latest technology development for homeworkers - videoconferencing.
This allows you to mount a little camera on your desk, dial up another videoconference user anywhere in the world and them - hey presto - you can see them on your computer screen as you talk and they can see you on theirs.
With this sort of development, how long will it be before our offices in towns and cities are empty because everyone is talking face-to-face to everyone else from the comfort of their own homes?
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Nov 1, 1997|
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