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Interview With International Foreign News Correspondent & Blogger Nico Prins

Nico Prins

Welcome to the thirteenth 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 was the most original interview yet and one I NEVER expected to pen. I was given the absolute pleasure in interviewing Foreign news correspondent and travel blogger Nico Prins.

Nico has done quite a lot in his life. Not only has he learnt three languages but he’s also lived in four different countries. Let’s just say he’s not led a normal life. His passion for travel and his journalism background has led Nico to recently launch his own travel blog  A Travellers tale which documents his experience as a traveler. Not only this Nico has lived with a family he met on a train (dont ask!) before landing his job on TV. Personally speaking this has been one of the most fascinating and mind opening interviews so far in my 13 week series and one I am delighted I managed to secure.

Nico successfully displays a balance between work and life even when working in one of the most stressful and intense careers on the planet. He is the perfect case study in how to truly delight when working away from your boss. Enjoy finding out about this great way of living and working.  Thanks Nico!

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

I’m originally from Somerset in the South-West of England, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. I spent my formative years moving between Senegal and Burkino Faso in French West Africa, so I got the travel bug and a love for languages early in my life. Ironically considering my passport, English is my third language, though I have now forgotten the other two.

As soon as I completed my University degree and satisfied my parents educational ambitions for me I left England to go to Argentina. After six months I was finding it hard to get any other job than teaching English, so on a whim I applied for a position in Indonesia. That was more than three years ago and I’m finding it hard to leave this place.

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

I work as a Foreign Correspondent for an international news channel. Officially I’m a stringer, which means freelance by name only. I work remote, have never visited the headquarters, talked to my boss about two times in the last two years and no one seems to have a problem with that.

On average I work a three-day week for Press TV. The rest of the time I spend researching possible stories, doing consultancies, running my own projects and travelling.

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.

Being a freelancer means I’m free to set my own schedule, but I don’t have the security of a monthly pay cheque. That means I have to set myself weekly targets, and when there are lots of things happening then I chase down every story I can. As for stereotypes, when I do work, a twelve hour workday is not uncommon. Last week I did a 20 hour day, I’ve even found myself doing a 72 hour working week.

It’s not all hard work though. To be honest I sleep in more than I should, but I almost never work from home if I can help it. I’m just not productive in my room. My favourite office is by the pool in a country club in Jakarta. When I’m tired of writing or researching I jump in the pool.

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

The biggest problem I’ve found about working remotely is not knowing what’s going on in the central office, or what are the expectations of your employer. This was a real issue for me in the beginning. The second thing is not really knowing the personalities of the people I work for. Honestly after two years some of my work exchanges have gone no further than “it’s ok,” or “that’s fine for tomorrow.” Maybe one day, just to satisfy my curiosity I’ll travel to their main office.

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

The main benefits for working from home for me are the ability to utilise my productivity. I think this freedom to be productive when I feel productive makes me work more efficiently and have a happier quality of life. It also means if I decide I need some rest or I want to travel then I can just do it.

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

I’m a definite advocate of a balance between work and life. For some people there is no difference between the two and if that is the case then great, but I have a definite distinction.

For me achieving this balance comes back to setting my own goals and making sure that I can achieve them. I genuinely like my job, so I enjoy working. However there is more to life than my work, this is something I’m not willing to compromise on.

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

You have to remember that home workers are still in the minority, so unless you’ve just left university or you’re nearing retirement most of your friends are going to be working 9 to 5 Monday to Friday. This can be an isolating experience. Working in an office is a social scene. You joke around, you chat over a cup of coffee, whatever. When you’re working from home chances are you’re by yourself. So having a good support and social network is really key.

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

I don’t have a dedicated office space and don’t attach any particular importance to having one. I go to places where I feel I can be productive. I do definitely have favorred places I like to go to though. They usually offer a mix of free Wi-Fi, a restaurant and a swimming pool. If all of these boxes are ticked then I’m great.

The other part of my job requires me to keep updated on local and national developments. The best place to find out things is unsurprisingly in bars. Alcohol loosens tongues and talkative people are a journalist’s best friend.

Q: Any pictures of your office space?

nico-prins-office-space

Most recent office space.

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

While I know working by the pool works for me, I’ve read interviews by other people who say that they find such an environment too distracting. The real key is about knowing yourself. What is the metaphorical equivalent of putting on a suit and walking out of the front door for you?

My second piece of advice is don’t be afraid to take a break and come back to something if you’re stuck. You can rarely force productivity, but you can definitely draw out procrastination.

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

I believe that most jobs just can’t be done from home unfortunately. However I’m sure some of your responsibilities don’t require you to be in the office. It is like that work/ life balance I was discussing earlier. Look at your job, decide how much of your work could be done from home and then discuss it with your boss.

On another note I was talking to a friend in London, who told me that because of the Olympics a lot of people were advised to work from home and that this is changing the attitudes of some businesses towards remote working. I hope more companies do change because I’m a real believer in the benefits for the employee, the company and the environment.

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

It is not just those with web based roles that companies should consider allowing to work from home. Like I said earlier it comes down to the job description of the position. For some people it will work for others it would be counter productive. Companies should be open to exploring this, but there is no one size fits all policy so they need to find the balance that works for them.

However I think a lot of these changes are already happening and it is as a result of company’s policies to outsource their work rather than as part of a concerted policy to allow people to work remotely. Hiring a computer programmer in the Philippines for example is going to be cheaper than a programmer based in London.

 

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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