Honey, I’m Home!
Around a third of all the journeys to work in the UK during the snowy weather seen at the start of February 2012 were badly affected by it. Schools closed and even the trains suffered in the bad weather so the option to work from home has potentially many benefits and that’s before the expected chaos two extremely busy weeks of sport will bring to the UK this July.
Overall there has been a huge increase in those working from home and this is due to several reasons. Firstly, the decrease in manufacturing sectors which has been overtaken by office based jobs centred around a computer, secondly, advances in technology and thirdly, the social and cultural aspects such as the rise in single parents and the need to spend more time at home. The internet and advances in technology such as computer processing power through the 90’s drove the boom in office based employment as use of company specific ‘intranets’ became widespread. But it was developments throughout the last decade in social networking and digitised media files (mp3, digital photos etc) that have meant the hardware required for working from home is now common place in most residential properties, put there and paid for by the residents for domestic purposes. Broadband, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP – cheap calls over the internet) and mobile technology are becoming standardised in the UK for domestic uses and so firms are maybe only required to offer employees a dedicated work laptop and chip in for broadband costs to enable many of us to work from home. This is a very small investment if it saves the upkeep of an expensive seat in a city office.
So, what are the basic hardware requirements in more detail?
Broadband internet connection, a modem, a decent PC or laptop, anti virus software and software such as Microsoft Office are the most basic requirements to allow seamless communication and full work capability at home. A £250 PC (personal computer) or £300 laptop will have the necessary processing power to allow several applications to be open and working all at the same time (such as the internet, a spreadsheet, a word document etc). Spending a bit more on the computer will buy you more digital storage space on the machine and more connection ports (e.g. USB) and you can expect to pay around £15 per month for broadband internet connection, though many companies now offer TV/ internet/ telephone call bundles.
Internet providers such as BT or Virgin will usually include a wireless modem as part of the package and once plumbed in should provide easy wireless connection to modern PC’s or laptops with built in ‘Wi-Fi’ capability. You may even be able to incorporate added minutes and texts for using their mobile phone service too. Using a simple Wi-Fi internet connection provides a very neat and simple solution to setting up a home office as the modem can be placed at the source and then providing the Wi-Fi signal is strong enough the office can be installed almost anywhere in the house without the need for ugly cabling.
Images courtesy of sxc.hu