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Interview With Journalist & Shed Working Advocate Alex Johnson

Welcome to the seventeenth of the weekly interview series where I will speak a wide range of people who have embraced the working remotely opportunity. We will speak to entrepreneurs, business owners, large organisation workers and freelancers about their trials and tribulations when delving into remote working.

This week I am proud to have interviewed Alex Johnson who is a freelance journalist and editorial consultant. Over the last 15 years he has written for a range of national magazines on travel and contributed to a number of travel guidebooks including titles for TimeOut and the AA.

I personally discovered Alex’s fantastic work through his famous Shed Working website which is a website very close to my heart. I’ve always been a huge fan of garden based office spaces and Alex perfectly captures some of the best spaces throughout the world on his blog. If you have a spare hour (or ten!) then I suggest you delve into the world of Shed Working. Some of the spaces are literally breathtaking and well worth the time 🙂 To learn more about Alex and Shed Working you can follow his via his twitter account.

But how does Alex manage to fit in his time working with the Independent, writing his own books and maintaining his website? I asked Alex about his working from home conditions and his opinions on remote working. Great read!

Q: Hi Alex, tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from, where do you live now?

I’m Alex Johnson, a freelance journalist, author and professional blogger. I grew up in Shropshire and Yorkshire and now live in St Albans

Q: What company do you work for and what is your role within the organisation?

I’m entirely freelance though I’ve been part of The Independent’s online team for about 6 years.

Q: How do you deal with stereotypes from friends in regards to productivity when working from home? i.e.: Sleep until midday, 2 hour lunch breaks etc.

When I started working from home there was a lot of this kind of thing but in recent years I’ve found so many other people doing it that I don’t have to explain any more. When I do come across it, I tend to either laugh or point out that statistics show homeworkers do a lot more work than those in traditional offices.

Q: What is the most challenging part about working remotely and how do you overcome this?

IT problems can be a bit annoying – you have to become a bit of an amateur IT expert. It’s not really a problem, but it is important to get out and meet people so I make sure I do that and take part in local community events e.g. I coach my boys’ school football team

Q: What are the main positives around working from home?

Better work-life balance. No commute. Excellent sandwiches.

Q: Are you an advocate of work/life balance and how do you try and balance both?

Very much so. It can be hard to turn off from work but the great thing about what I do is that it’s very flexible – of course there are deadlines, but it’s up to me how I hit them rather than having them enforced pointlessly.

Q: How important do you feel family support is for home workers?

Crucial, otherwise it wouldn’t work. The family need to realise that working from home is just that, not an excuse to get the homeworker to do lots of chores.

Q: Do you have a dedicated office space and what is the importance of having this?

Although I write a lot about garden offices and used to work in one, I currently work in the cellar because we moved house not long ago and still haven’t sorted this out (it took ages to get the garden into shape). Again, it’s vital to have a dedicated workspace where nobody can spill orange juice on your laptop or the dog chew through your cables. This is why a garden office is perfect.

Q: Any pictures of your office space?

Shed Working

A typical ‘Shed Working’ Office space Alex promotes. Not much of a Shed right?

Q: Do you have any productivity tools you use to keep yourself efficient which may help our readers?

None. I try to answer emails as soon as they come in is about the only thing I do to a plan.

Q: If you could give any advice to our readers before deciding whether remote working is for them then what would it be?

Ask yourself if your commute is really necessary.

Q: Do you believe more organisations should allow those with web based roles to work remotely? If so..how come?

Of course, and not just those with web-based roles, many, many people can do a lot of their job from home, going into the office every so often to see people, have meetings, etc, but not spending needless amounts of time simply being present

About the author

Ryan Gibson

Hey! I'm a 28 year old digital marketing guy residing in Leeds, England. My skill is in search marketing and I have gathered over 6 years experience of working on large multilingual campaigns for a number of FTSE 250 Organisations. After accepting a role with a business based in Singapore I began questioning traditional business practice and employee retention. This blog GenerationY.com was therefore born with focus on Y in the workplace. A millennial child at heart I aim to provide a voice for the 'misunderstood' generation and my goal is simply to change perception and corporate mind set on work/life attitudes; inspiring companies and individuals to seek change.

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