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Sunday, July 25, 1999 Published at 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK

Special Report

Teleworking set to grow in Wales

The option of working from home is proving attractive

More than a million people in the UK are now working from home using new technology, says a study to be published this week.

With the south Wales economy enjoying a boom time and the road network coming under increasing strain, it is likely the trend of workingfrom home could take hold.

The report, by the Institute for Employment Studies, says about 5% of the working population works from home at least one day a week.

[ image: Working from home saves time and travelling]
Working from home saves time and travelling
It says there is no sign of the popularity of "teleworking" abating.

Large, hi-tech companies moving into south Wales who might look into the option of home working include Bank One Corporation and Legal and General, employing hundreds of new workers.

The report forecasts that about 200,000 people a year will take advantage of new technology to live and work in the same place.

Teleworking cuts down on the number of commuters and is good for the environment. It is also popular with parents who want to see as much of their children as possible.

It is also beneficial for employers, who can save millions on overheads.

Makes sense to bosses

In May BT announced plans to persuade up to 10,000 of its staff to work from home in an attempt to cut costs.

But the report's author, Dr Ursula Huws, tells BBC One's Countryfile programme there are drawbacks to working at home: "People do get quite lonely if they're working from home all of the time.

"What most people ideally like is a mixture of working from home and working in an outside office and that solves the social isolation problems as well."

She says teleworkers often fear their absence from the office will damage their promotion prospects.

"It's a case of 'out of sight, out of mind'."

World's first 'televillage'

Countryfile visited the world's first "televillage" at Crickhowell in Powys.

The Acorn Televillage is a £7m project, featuring a mix of cottages and work studios, which will eventually be linked to a fibre-optic network.

At the heart of the development is a purpose-built telecentre, with Internet links and video conferencing facilities.

Developer Ashley Dobbs says: "The main advantage of living here as a teleworker is the kindred spirits around, so it's as much a psychological invention as a technological one.

"That you have people around and you don't get that isolation of working by yourself."

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