Interview With Entrepreneur Ashley Baxter

Ashley Baxter

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

Our second interviewee is Ashley Baxterbusiness owner, photographer and web guru. Ashley is a work horse and shares her time across been company director for Landlord insurance business Brokers Direct, taking ridiculously awesome pictures and having time to work out regularly.

Ashley has experience many few do have through owning her own business at the tender age of 18. She has worked from home all her life and is a well placed to give advice on remote working. I caught up with Ashley recently and asked her  a number of questions about her working life and how she continues to maintain excellent standards in everything she does.

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

Hello! I’m 25 years old, currently living in a spacious, city apartment in Glasgow with my dog, Indie. I moved here 1 year ago from a small town on the West Coast called Inverkip, so it’s a completely different pace of life, but I mainly grew up in Dunoon, a Peninsula in Argyll.

When I’m not working, I take lots of photos and play video games.

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

I’m Company Director at Brokers Direct. It’s a small business specialising in property insurance, so I can wear many hats throughout the day. Right now I am working on rolling out a few major updates to existing sites, as well as introducing a new one to the family. I’m also working on building software to aid landlords in managing their rental properties, something we will be offering exclusively to our customers. Once that’s done I’ll be moving onto rebuilding our quote system to give users a better experience.

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.

Oh! This is a major sore point for me. Working from home means you have the benefit of unconventional hours. I can wake up and get to work at 5am, but that also means I might finish working at 3pm. People will call you out for skiving because you’re not sticking to the 9-5 convention, but if you have the advantage of working when you’re most productive, use it!

I am probably more productive than my peers who are caged into working specific hours. For example, I woke up the other day feeling a bit deflated with work. Instead of getting straight to it, I took my dog a long walk, enjoyed the sun, got a coffee. By the time I arrived home at 10.30am, I was so pumped to work. If I had been forced to sit straight down at the desk that day I probably wouldn’t have managed to get in the zone at all.

I also find with working from home that friends think you’re available 24/7, despite telling them otherwise. They will call during work hours for long chats, or spontaneously turn up at your house and expect you to be available. Despite being fairly flexible with my work hours, I don’t take the piss with my work hours and when I have my work head on I’m not looking for distractions.

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

Whenever I mention I work from home, people always follow up with “Wow, you’re so lucky!”. I am, but what they forget is the loneliness factor. I live alone and work from home, so I can spend an awful lot of time in my own company. For the most part I am okay with this as I do enjoy my own company, but occasionally the feeling of cabin fever creeps in, and it’s not a pleasant one to experience.

To combat this I spend my lunch hour in the gym. This gets me out of the house and in the company of others, as well as helps take my mind off work. I might also arrange a lunch with a friend, or take my dog a walk and get coffee. Getting out of the office is key.

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

It can also be a drawback, but being in charge of managing your own time is a positive. People often ask how I can be so strict with myself, but when you have salaries and mortgages and bills riding on your own back, you just get up and do it. I guess it helps that I’m also a naturally ambitious person.

I’ve been doing this since I was 18, and I’m not going to lie; it’s taken years of practice to get to the point where I don’t succumb to distractions. I will listen to music during work, but TV, Xbox, having friends over etc are all off limits.

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

I do, and funnily enough I’ve just started redecorating it. About 6 years ago I was living and working in a tiny apartment. My lounge was my office and there was no getting away from work, I would finish on my computer and literally walk three steps to the couch. There was no clear distinction between work and relaxation. I hated it.

Now I have my office, it sounds silly, but that room in my house has a different vibe to everywhere else. When I go in there I know I mean business. It’s a bit darker than everywhere else, with no TV’s or video game consoles. I can close the door, lock myself away and really concentrate.

Q: Any pictures of your office space?

Ashley Baxters Office

Ashley Baxter Office 2

Ashley Baxters Imac

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

No, sorry. I don’t really buy into that stuff. I’ve tried apps that track my time or prevent me from visiting social networking sites, but at the end of the day I just sit down and plug away. Also, I think it’s okay to have distractions to a degree, depending what they are. For example, I have Twitter open throughout the day and people can post inspirational content to it that gets me excited to work.

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

Make sure you’ve got a good social life to combat the amount of time you’ll be spending in your home, possibly on your own. Be prepared to deal with people thinking that, because you work from home, you don’t work at all.

Don’t expect to find your flow as soon as you begin working from home, a productive routine can take a while to form. At the same time, you have to be strick to be proactive. Don’t be a reactive worker!

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

Yes, I think organisations have to trust their employees to get the job done; have some faith and treat them like adults, give them the responsiblity of working from home. I bet they would be surprised how productive they can be in their own surroundings, with their own computer and things around them.

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 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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