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'Telework' trend gains momentum

WITH central London having the look of a typical bank holiday yesterday, it appears many workers took the advice to 'telework' from home, writes Martin Whitfield.

Packed with a personal computer, fax machine and a telephone, many a study or spare bedroom has been converted to an office.

British Telecom estimates that up to a million workers already work away from the office, with the number increasing each year. A further 1.5 million workers occasionally stay at home, it says.

Sally Costerton, 29, a director of the Quentin Bell Organisation, a public relations company, was one of those opting to avoid the strike and stay at home in Dulwich, south-east London.

'The last time there was a strike it was a complete nightmare. I spent more time on the road than in the office,' she said.

Ms Costerton works from home at least three days a month and would like to do more. 'If your job includes a lot of report writing, you need peace and quiet and to be away from distractions,' she added.

Teleworkers tend to divide into two distinct types. The first works exclusively with a computer, either as a programmer or as a data processor while the second will be professional staff seeking a period away from the office to complete a task, such as drawing up a presentation or writing reports.

Supporters of teleworking claim greater staff productivity as well as higher job satisfaction. Savings are made on commuting costs and office space although few groups recommend permanent exclusion from the office environment.