NEWS

Living and working at the click of a mouse

Odia Manzourani is a true child of the Internet. The 31-year-old clinical studies supervisor has been using the Web since her student days. She has never been to a travel agency – «Do they still exist?» she asked – and a few months ago switched to a job she could do from home. In the space of a day, she finished a report for her firm, took part in a meeting, organized her tax payments and visited a bookshop – all without walking outside her front door. «The firm’s headquarters are in Hungary and its employees are in every corner of the globe. Everything is done online now. Why should you have to go to an office in order to be productive?» she asked. «Working from home gives you great flexibility, but the truth is that it sometimes makes communication difficult – it’s one thing to talk to the person sitting next to you in the office and another by e-mail. I have to say that once when I lost my connection for two weeks, I felt completely isolated. Not only work-wise, but in general.» E-working might still be in its infancy in Greece but, for a large sector of the population, life would be more difficult without the Internet. And these are not just the cyber-hermits living their lives online and drinking to the health of broadband, but also for the rest of us, for whom the Internet is not only a valuable tool but helps us survive in the modern age. Thousands of Greeks get their information online. Both Kathimerini’s Greek and English sites get up to 100,000 visitors a day who read over 12 million articles a month. Even more meet their communication and entertainment needs online, visiting sites such as zoo.gr (which has 280,000 members). More advanced web-surfers take advantage of the technology by watching television or even cinema online. Others who prefer to watch performances outside their homes buy tickets for films or concerts online. And not only tickets. E-commerce in Greece is on the rise: 600,000 people have bought merchandise over the Internet and, by the end of this year, they will have spent 200 million euros. More taxpayers are using TAXISnet to fill out their tax forms online and pay their dues (about 10 percent of taxpayers now do so). E-banking is also increasingly popular. «I’ve forgotten what it’s like to wait in a line at the bank,» said Giorgos, 30. You can shop at the supermarket, study at a university, order food, even do guitar lessons online. The question is what one can do without the Internet. «I’ll tell you,» said Panayiotos, 36, who works in the computer department of a shipping firm. «We lost our Internet connection at home for two weeks when my wife and I were booking a trip to England. We simply couldn’t do it. We couldn’t look for a hotel, nor see what performances were on!»