Lockdown inspires remote working festival for resort

Ziptrek Ecotours and RemoteTogetherNZ founder Trent Yeo, of Queenstown. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Ziptrek Ecotours and RemoteTogetherNZ founder Trent Yeo, of Queenstown. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A Queenstown entrepreneur has used the Covid-19-induced lockdown as inspiration to create, hopefully, short- and long-term benefits for the Wakatipu, and New Zealand.

Ziptrek Ecotours founder Trent Yeo is behind a 12-day festival, being held this November, dubbed "RemoteTogetherNZ".

It will bring together a host of local, regional, national and international speakers — including a representative from digital music service Spotify — along with guests from all over the country including chief executives, business owners, ex-pat New Zealanders and those in the middle of the "pivot" to learn about how to maximise remote working, giving Queenstown an economic boost in a quiet period and, potentially, creating a new string for the town’s bow.

Mr Yeo said in March the "future crashed in on the present" so residents who were previously desk-bound recognised remote working was not just possible, it was also "potentially very productive".

"We were forced into that situation and we handled it, some with more or less grace than others."

Mr Yeo believed New Zealand was in a "unique, privileged position" given its health response to Covid was better than most countries and New Zealanders had long strived for a lifestyle balance.

Combined, he believed the stage was set to make Aotearoa a global leader in remote working.

"If you can work anywhere in the world, where in the world would that be?

"I think our region significantly has attributes that would bring people to our place, so I think we have a natural advantage there."

However, remote working was not just "Zoom and email".

"There has to be processes around it, a culture of acceptance, there needs to be high trust and authenticity in the exchange — there are so many elements that make it work well.

"I think now the edge has been knocked off it, it’s much easier to accept it as part of normal life."

During the festival, running from November 2 to 13, co-working spaces would pop up around Queenstown to enable delegates to actually work while in Queenstown.

The World Bar and the TSS Earnslaw will provide two of those spaces, Mr Yeo said.

Given the assets in Queenstown — infrastructure, physical and intellectual property — Mr Yeo wanted to find a way to use those in a better and more efficient way than pre-Covid.

Further, Mr Yeo said content produced throughout the festival would be used to market the Wakatipu as an option for remote workers across the world, in particular ex-pats who might now be looking to be part of the "brain gain" and return.



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