5 Things Learned from Working in New Zealand

By October 7, 2014blog
working in new zealand

I lived and worked for 10 months in New Zealand. What were the highlights? I tried to wrap together the 5 biggest learnings after working in this amazing country. I had the privilege of producing digital work at Resn. The guys and girls (or should I say bro’s and bro-ettes) at this award winning agency make the most fabulous websites and interactive candy in the universe.


1. Make Websites Like a Barista

At Resn the coffee machine is the center piece of the office. You’re asked explicitly to treat it like a colleague. Handle it with care and respect it like a coworker. On my first day I even got an informal training on how to make good coffee. It took me several months before I really had the hang of it.

It’s not just about following the different steps in the process when making A-class coffee. And at Resn websites are made the same way.

Yes, you do need to follow the rules. However, with a flat white, you have to steam the milk to exactly the right temperature by pressing your hand on the milk jug.

And the same is true for websites. You need to keep your hands on a project constantly to make sure it’s not overheating. And it’s no science either. It’s about instinct and experience.

2. Stop Complaining

Kiwi’s (how New Zealanders call themselves) live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with one of the highest living standards possible. And they are very aware of that.

Somehow it reflects in their way of being, as people in New Zealand are friendly and positive by nature. They’ll throw you a “hiya” (short for “hi how are you”) at any time. Even if you run into someone in the most remote places, they’ll always say hello.

Also, you’ll almost never hear anyone complain in public. And when working together with kiwi’s, that’s one of the big differences they make. At every occasion they’ll be friendly and constructive. Always keen on finding a solution. Never complain. Awesome.

3. Small Town Heroes = World Domination

As New Zealand is geographically rather isolated from the rest of the world, kiwi’s aren’t afraid of working for clients all over the world. Shanghai, East Coast, Paris,… it doesn’t really mather. As long as they can have a decent skype call with their clients everyday, it works out perfectly.

That different timezone has other advantages as well. First of all, when working for the U.S. East Coast for example, you only have a couple of hours a day to do your communication. Which makes it hyper focused and very on topic. Which is good of course. And when working with the States, you’re always a day ahead of things. Your clients can perfectly send you feedback on their Friday end of day, which you can tackle in New Zealand on Monday and drop in their mailboxes for their Monday morning. It’s like travelling in time without the stupid star trek costumes (and probably better coffee).

So working in a distant place far far away in a completely different timezone actually can be a big plus when you turn it to your advantage.

4. No Meetings Out of the Office

Another fun side effect of this isolation is that your colleagues never have to leave the office for client meetings. Everybody is always in the office at any time. Thus it’s much easier to do ad hoc meetings when needed, and you don’t have to plan everything around the super busy always travelling calendars of your directors.

Less meetings. More freedom. More flexibility. And when at some stage during a skype meeting you do need an expert, you can just pull him from his desk and get him in front of the camera. This feels like an anecdotical thing, but it actually makes a huge difference to your day to day business and the overall vibe in the office.

5. Get Lost

When I went skiing in St. Arnauds, I met this really friendly Spanish guy on the T-bar lift. He was working as a liftie to earn some money so he could travel the country in summer. When I asked him why he came to New Zealand, he had this really good reason:

I’m from Basque Country, which is a great place as well. However the cool thing about New Zealand is that you only have to walk 5 minutes off the road and you’re almost sure to be in the great outdoors, amidst beautiful scenery. And you can do this every day if you want. It’s so easy to get lost in New Zealand, which is a great thing.

One of the most important things I indeed learned in New Zealand is to get lost. Just step off the track and see what happens. It will make your day richer and more rewarding. Which is also the same for my 10 months New Zealand. Life starts where your comfort zone ends.

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