Don't feel like going in to the office today? Then get yourself a high-speed Internet connection and join the telecommuter revolution

More than 3 million Europeans are now officially classified as "telecommuters". This is a small number compared with America's 11 million telecommuters. However, according to the UK's top Internet service providers, since September the rise in the number of newly wired households for the first time has surpassed the number of new connections for offices. That means the UK workforce is gearing up to become the home-based, wired cybertribe of the future.

You can't blame them, really, considering the state of the Northern Line, traffic on the M4 and a daily average of two hours wasted commuting to work. That's two hours away from the family, friends, your cat or the football results, which you really needn't sacrifice in the Internet-ready era.

A friend of mine, a solid hedge-fund manager with impeccable list of clients, has made the transition over the past year. Now, with Bloomberg on his laptop, a GSM adapter and home office in Richmond, he has completed the first year of remote work with great success. For David, the daily commute from Richmond to the City is pretty much over, as he now does most of the hedge trading in his pyjamas between 6am and 11.30 am. He pops in to the office in central London only when it is necessary, but not more than two times per week.

Others who benefited from a similar transition are some of my freelance developers and graphic designers, whose creative metabolism is, inexplicably, highest at night. Having to drag themselves to the office for 9am was obviously affecting their level of inspiration. Once we had agreed the transition to home working, they started producing much more work in a lot less time. However, one problem is that working from home requires one to be a geek, or be married to one, or, even better, live close to a good cybercafe. This is not because the type of work available is only for geeks, but because of the need for technical problem-solving skills that one has to develop to cope with running a home office.

Take the V90 modem standard for 56K that has just been agreed by the great and good of modem manufacturing. Great news for telecommuters, as you live or die by the speed of your home connection. But the road to fast Internet via V90 is proving to be full of thorns. If you, like me and some other "must-have-now" types, rushed out four months ago (before the V90 standard was set) and got yourself a 56K modem, you would have been assured by the slick sales boys that once the standard for that speed was agreed, you would get a free upgrade via flash RAM.

Reassured, I got a new modem and enjoyed the speed as, psychologically, there is a big difference between 34K and 56K. Software downloads are much faster, even the most graphic-heavy Web sites or audio files come flying into your computer. But now, when the x2 and K56Flex pre-standard versions are replaced by V90 standard for 56K speed, we had to upgrade our modems.

Well, easier said than done, as everything seems to conspire to keep us away from the 56K nirvana. On help Web sites like http://www.56k.com and http://www.V90.com you will see that many modem brands from Sportster, Hewlett-Packard and Lucent are promising flash upgrades for old 34K or lower modems, as well as upgrades from pre-standard x2 to V90 standard. But it is not really happening as the upgraded modems disconnect, slow down while you work or kick you off in an unpredictable manner - and that is only for the few lucky ones who have actually managed to upgrade successfully.

I have always suspected that letting other people upgrade my hardware amounts to simple IT suicide, as these operations are pretty much irreversible. Once something goes wrong, there is no "Undo" button that allows you to go back to where you started. So leave upgrading for now and donate your old modem to your impoverished but geek-minded student nephew, as the level of complexity involved in upgrading it will keep him off the streets for weeks to come.

Then go to http://www.cybout.com and get yourself a new Winmodem from 3Com at $99. Then you will not need to worry until ADSL modems arrive and the whole game starts all over again. Which is a while away here in the UK, as BT is still struggling to trial ADSL anywhere more exciting than Hampstead.

Another alternative is a satellite-down, modem-up Internet connection. I have used one in the States with DirecPC (http://www.direcpc.com), and found it a great help for communicating with my virtual team using one-way video conferencing of perfect quality, with online chat as a many- to-one feedback channel.

Using a satellite Internet connection lets us have Star Trek-like sessions where I can broadcast a message via video and the team can comment via Internet Relay Chat. Funny as it sounds, it actually works quite well, as it affords me an ability to chat with co-workers that at least partially allows us to build the shared vision of the product or Web site.

On a more mundane level, a good satellite-down connection at 400K allows me to show everybody on the team a video of the object/model/site which we are working on, demonstrate the details and discuss the problems, pointing at the right things, with the project leader audible and visible to all involved, with IRC feedback from the team.

The good news is that all of the above will be available soon in UK via Easynet, which has just completed pilot installations. Since satellite Internet speed matches video delivery on television, this should be the last stop on the seemingly never-ending quest for bandwidth. With low- cost, unlimited bandwidth, expect the number of European telecommuters to soar, saving our roads from congestion, our air from pollution and the railway franchises from actually having to deliver an occasional train.

eva@never.com

Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot