Nature of work, future to fore

Ian Taylor
Ian Taylor
We are all experiencing the Covid-19 lockdown in different ways. In our new Voices column, Dunedin businessman Ian Taylor, of Animation Research Ltd, describes the gathering impact of a virus that is affecting our way of thinking.

On January 13, as I passed through Heathrow airport on my way to the Abu Dhabi Golf tournament, our first big European Tour golf event of the year, I read an article on page 5 of a newspaper which reported that a man had died of an unknown virus in a place in China I had never heard of. Wuhan.

From memory, the virus didn’t even have a name.

I remember thinking at the time "how long might it be before this story makes it to the front page?" That was just 12 weeks ago.

Four weeks ago, I flew to the United States for the start of what was shaping up to be our biggest year ever in sport. We had signed up for 80 golf tournaments a year for the next three years, more than 2000 games a season for Major League Baseball, we were finalising a contract for 23 games in the NFL, including the Super Bowl, and the America’s Cup was about to start — in Italy!

That promising year lasted just 24 hours. That was the time it took to complete the first day of The Players Golf Championship in Jacksonville, Florida. That was March 12. On Friday 13, a Black Friday if ever there was one, the tournament was cancelled because of a virus that now had a name: coronavirus.

Within days our entire sport market had disappeared.

In just 12 weeks, the death toll from Covid-19 has climbed from one to more than 70,000.

Countries have been placed in lock down, the world economy has crashed, jobless numbers are soaring and there is little doubt that when we come out of this, the world will have changed.

These are undoubtedly challenging times, but there will also be lessons we can learn.

Two weeks before the country went into total lockdown we had started to move staff home to work. We knew it could be done because Ryan Baker and Andrew Schofield had created a global business from Dunedin based on the idea that you could work from anywhere you liked, including from home.

By the time we went into Alert Level 4 we had everyone working remotely, not just across town but around the world.

The value of winning Gigatown, with its high-speed internet into our homes, highlights how important this electronic highway is to our future. As physical borders around the world close, this highway will become even more important.

What has been remarkable over the past couple of weeks has been the way in which this new environment of enforced isolation has focused our team.

It has given us the time, space and opportunity to focus on "what might be." On how we hit the ground running when we emerge from these challenging times. As we will.

But the other focus for us, post Covid-19, will be on the nature of work itself. It’s at a time like this that we need to ask: what is the purpose of work?

I thought of this the other day when our management team and board sent out a message to all of our staff, now working from home.

The message was simple: “We have your back just as you have had ours over all of these years’’.

"You do have a job, but the job description is different. Your job now includes taking time to care for yourself and for those around you. Take whatever time you need to do that. That’s what you are being paid to do.

"He waka eke noa: We are all in this waka together."

Maybe when this is all over, there’s a lesson for all of us in that approach.

  • Do you have a 680-word column in you? We want to hear about your experience of the Covid-19 lockdown, what your work and community will look like when we emerge, and what we must do when this is over. Email:



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