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Doing your homework

01:00 Tue 13th Feb 2001 |

By Tom Gard

IMAGINE if commuting to work involved arming yourself with a cupper, stepping over a toddler or two, negotiating the stairs and then sitting down in front of the computer.

For millions of the working population this is somewhere near reality. The Internet and email revolution means almost a quarter of us can now work from home and numbers are expected to rise dramatically over the next ten years.

But it is not just a case of pulling a chair up to the kitchen table and getting started. It is important to set yourself up somewhere where you have enough space, feel comfortable and are as far away from distractions and interruptions as possible. Sitting in a gloomy corner or having the kids running around your feet is not going to be good for productivity or concentration.

Storage is important, especially if space is limited. Look out for office clearances to pick up cheap filing cabinets, desks and office shelving. If they look too functional or are old and chipped you can cheer them up by spraying with car paint.

Office workers wouldn't expect to sit on a rickety chair all day and neither should you. There's no point in spending thousands of pounds on computer equipment if you are so uncomfortable you can't sit in front of the screen for more than five minutes at a time. You can get a second-hand swivel chair from office suppliers or clearances for as little as �25.

Then there's the decor. Interior designers warn against surrounding yourself with stripy wallpaper or patterns that are deemed to be distracting. Light colours such as cream, yellow or orange are said to be soothing and aid concentration.

If your setting up from scratch, make sure you've got enough power points and telephone lines installed before you start moving in to your office space. Miles and miles of extension cables everywhere are not only unsightly, but potentially dangerous.

If you're not lucky enough to have a spare room you can convert to an office there are always other ways to create space. For example, the area under a main staircase or an alcove on a landing can be annexed off with a muslin curtain.

There are even those who have taken the office outside. A powerful heater and a bit of underground cabling could turn that garden shed into a perfectly secluded office.

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