Staff at a Welsh call centre are being flown half the way around the world to New Zealand to allow them to cover graveyard shifts without the chore of working nights.
As part of the innovative scheme – which has apparently been well-received by employees – the telephone answering company Moneypenny is offering its Wrexham-based workers the chance to move 11,000 miles away to the sunshine of Auckland.
The firm described the initiative as a “relatively straightforward” decision to provide “wide awake” staff answering the increasing number of calls in the middle of the night.
Now when the Wrexham-based workers leave the office, at the “flick of a switch” when it is 8pm in Britain colleagues in Auckland take over until 8am.
To make the deal even sweeter for the staff relocating to the southern hemisphere, they work four days on and four days off, allowing them time to go sightseeing.
The New Zealand office is based in the coastal suburb of Takapuna, which has a 6km crescent-shaped beach with turquoise waters. Wrexham, by contrast, has a swimming pool next to the magistrates’ court.
But after six months the call-centre staff must return home when they are replaced in New Zealand. Four employees have already flow out, with another 40 expressing an interest. The scheme was thought up by Rachel Clacher and Ed Reeves, Moneypenny’s directors. After an Australian sabbatical in 2010, Ms Clacher said: “I had managed to work out in Australia pretty seamlessly so we decided to look at neighbouring New Zealand as a possible base because it made more financial sense.”
She said that only four out of more than 250 employees had wanted to continue night shifts in Wrexham before the new office opened last October. “By working on the other side of the world we’re now able to offer a truly 24-hour first-rate service, with bright, chirpy and wide-awake people.”
One the first staff members to be based in New Zealand was Jess Edwards, 24, from Holt, near Wrexham. She has now visited Australia and New Zealand’s North and South Islands. She said: “I am getting to see places I probably never would have the chance to see otherwise.” She added: “It’s very different to the working week I am used to in the UK.”
Moneypenny, currently answering phones for some 6,000 businesses, said it was keen to provide its employees with a “comfortable, happy, stimulating work environment”.
Reaction to the new call centre was mixed on Twitter. Some users praised the idea as “brilliantly progressive” but others said it was just the kind of “stupidity that is killing the planet”.