Magazine article Marketing

Doing Your Homework

Magazine article Marketing

Doing Your Homework

Article excerpt

An essential guide to working from home reveals the range of equipment

SoHo ain't that area within our nation's capital where media types hang off the end of their G&Ts anymore. Small office/Home office isn't the name of a new breed of jolly, techno types who can't wait to trot to their local supermarket to buy the souped-up PC for their accounts.

There's more to working from home than a quick game of Lemmings and a forage through Encarta. It's a way of extending the office, and to do it right takes a lot of planning and even more discipline.

Decision-making today is centred on staff spending most of their time on the front line serving the customer, either by being with them or producing the goods.

This explains why many of those with a desk-PC at home are hard-nosed professionals with a cast-iron reason for using it. They need an adequately-equipped base outside the office and facilities that they can use outside conventional working hours.

But choosing what you should have in your home office isn't as easy as you'd think. This is not because there isn't much of a choice, quite the opposite - there's too much choice.

You've got to think 'need' and 'budget' and start with the basics. Whether you're a one-person business or occasional user of a portable PC, furniture is everything. You've got to buy a solid desk and a sensible chair.

We've all been brainwashed into thinking we'll go lame and blind if we don't fork out for ergonomically-designed furniture and sophisticated lighting. They are nice to have, but not an absolutely necessity. Trawl around Ikea or Habitat for an afternoon and you'll pick up perfectly serviceable desk and chair units for around [pounds]350 to [pounds]500.

Try to use a separate room with natural light if possible, not the kitchen table. Privacy is important.

Seek advice about power supplies from your local electrician or 'power provider'. You'll need plenty of power points - even though today's technology carries out a combination of functions from the one box - and don't forget the phone lines. With Mercury and BT fighting each other for business, you can get a good deal.

If you're a corporate extension - that is, a professional spending much of your time with clients - you'll probably be kitted out with a portable computer anyway. Your company will have chosen it and the price won't have mattered.

If it's your own business, however, the chosen model will depend upon whether you're running lots of presentations on the move, or extending your working hours by recreating the static office environment at home.

If it's the former, you're probably looking at a top-of-the-range Apple PowerBook, or multimedia portable PC with TFT screen and a price tag to match - [pounds]3000 plus. Looking for a desktop replacement with all the benefits that portability has to offer - light weight, 9.5 inch screen, full-size keyboard and so on? Unisys has just released its Travel Asset and Travel Partner Series of powerful portables, costing from [pounds]1999-[pounds]3749; Twinhead has just cut its Slim-note 3 and 5 Series notebooks by up to 18%, with prices now from [pounds]1149-[pounds]3329; and Toshiba has launched a mid-range portable with built-in, double-speed CD-ROM - the T2150CD - for [pounds]2695. Like the high-end Unisys machines, the Toshiba is 'multimedia ready' and runs off a fast, 75 megahertz DX4 processor and stereo sound card.

If that all seems a bit rich, a standard portable or desktop with decent SVGA screen - more than adequate for basic text, figures and graph work - should cost between [pounds]1000-[pounds]1700 including VAT. …

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