You may have heard the word ‘contractor’ float around your workplace, but have you ever pondered what it means to be a contractor and whether it is for you? While you might feel more secure in your permanent job there are many benefits that you should consider if you are thinking of leaping from a permanent job to the wonderful world of contracting.
What is Contracting?
To keep this description short and sharp. Contractors are professionals who provide skills or services to companies for a set period. They may be contracted for a set time period, set number of hours over a time period or until the project they are working on is completed.
If the world of contracting has tickled your fancy here are some benefits you might get from leaping into the contracting world.
You’re Likely to Know Someone Who Is on A Project with You.
The New Zealand market is rather interesting, especially in Wellington. New Zealand is known for its two degrees of separation, and when you go contracting you are likely to work with someone who either directly or indirectly knows you. This can work in your favour. People move around different organisations and when doing so they may be looking for contractors for their projects. This is when your name could pop up in conversation due to you doing an exceptional job in your previous organisation. Always remember that the converse can happen too!
You Can Pick and Choose What Contracts You Take
As a contractor, you have the ability to pick and choose what contracts you put your name forward for. It can be great, as you can work on projects that you are passionate about and will enjoy. Some projects even allow you to complete some tasks remotely facilitating the ability to work from home.
While it is good that you can pick and choose what contracts to you should make sure that you don’t say “no” to everything. If you continue to turn down opportunities the agency staff are likely to promote candidates they know are flexible and come to the table with a “can do” attitude.
Significantly Higher Paycheck
When you are a contractor, you will get paid either a daily or hourly rate. For example, if you are on an hourly rate of $95 per hour X 8 hours a day X 5 days a week X 52 weeks a year = annual income of $197,600. If your skills are in demand or are very niche, you could have the potential to earn even more money due to the short supply of your skills.
While that dollar amount seems rather appealing there are many other costs you need to consider. These include: covering your own annual leave, sick leave, ACC and Kiwi Saver to name a few.
It is a smart idea to budget on doing less than 2080 hours (8 x 5 x 52) each year. Experience says 1800 hours a year is typical.
When contracting you may be able to get some tax benefits. As a New Zealand tax resident you can apply for a 0% withholding tax rate if you meet the following conditions:
- Are in business
- Have a good record of filing tax returns and paying tax
- Get schedular payments from a payer other than a labour-hire business under a labour-hire arrangement.
By doing this you are then responsible for paying your own tax which could sound daunting. But it also means that your money stays in your account for longer. You are able to earn more interest on your money while it is sitting in your account. The downside is you have to pay a lump sum of money towards your tax 3 times a year, under the provisional tax regime.
When working if you incur any business expenses you may be eligible for tax relief on those expenses. For example, if you purchase equipment in order to perform your work you will be able to account for these as business expenses to reduce the amount of your income that you need to pay tax on. If you are GST registered, you may also be able to claim the value of the GST portion of the expense.
Why use an Agent like Zephyr?
While you can go contracting directly to clients, you can also use an agent like Zephyr. Using an agent can come with many benefits. Here are some of the benefits you can get if you use Zephyr as your agent.
Zephyr Does The Marketing for You
- Let Zephyr do all the contract hunting for you. Our account managers are constantly talking to clients about the demand for skilled resources. It allows you to focus all your efforts on the job at hand rather than using your time/energy finding yourself another contract and doing the paperwork for it. It can be very difficult to scout for more work while completing your current assignment. If you wait until you finish your assignment you are guaranteed to have downtime with no income.
Public Liability & Professional Indemnity Insurance Provided For You
- Zephyr provides all our contractors and consultants with public liability and professional indemnity insurance when they start an assignment. This is one extra cost that you don’t need to worry about as Zephyr covers this cost for you.
Interface with HNRY NZ
- As a contractor one thing that you need to do yourself is taxes. These can be a pain especially if you aren’t numbers-savvy. At Zephyr, our contractors can either do their own taxes or use HNRY NZ. HNRY works as your accountant. Zephyr will pay your income into your HNRY account and HNRY will automatically pay your Income Tax, GST, ACC, and Student Loan so you don’t need to worry about your tax obligations. This gives you one less thing to stress about.
Support You When Things Go Wrong
- Zephyr can lend an ear to you when something isn’t going the right way. They will be able to provide help and when appropriate talk to the client directly about the issue. Zephyr’s directors have multiple years of experience in the consulting/contracting field and can provide invaluable help.
Other Benefits from Using Zephyr as An Agency Include:
- Monthly team lunches, this is a perfect opportunity to network with other Zephyr contractors.
- Welcome pack when starting an assignment
- Birthday morning tea provided by Zephyr to your worksite.
- Regular social events.
- Regular check in’s with our account managers.
These are just some of the benefits you can receive when you use Zephyr as your agent.
At Zephyr, we use Contractor Exchange to manage our talented resources. We use this system extensively to find talented resources to place with clients when they have demand for roles like business analysis, project managers, programme managers, developers, and change managers to name a few.
If you’re ready to leap into the contracting world fill in the form below and we will add you to Contractor Exchange and one of our friendly account managers will be in touch with you to talk about the wonderful world of contracting.
The 14 October is International E-Waste Day. This day is to raise awareness about the importance of recycling your electrical items safely and appropriately.
International E-Waste Day is organised by WEEE Forum, an international association of non-profit and sector-mandated e-waste collection schemes. WEEE Forum brings together e-waste stakeholders across the world to promote the correct treatment of electrical waste and electronic equipment to enable reuse and recycling.
According to the UN, in 2021 each person on the planet will produce on average 7.6 kg of e-waste, meaning that a massive 57.4 million tonnes will be generated worldwide.
Over the last year, there has been greater reliance on electronic and digital solutions. People rely on electronic products to keep them connected with work colleagues’ family and friends. This has led to greater consumption of e-products. It is even more important to make sure that people are aware of the options they have when discarding their e-waste.
How Does Zephyr Dispose of E-Waste?
At Zephyr, our Technology Services team take care of e-waste nearly every day.
The team encourage customers to recycle any type of e-waste rather than let it end up in the tip. E-Waste is collected from client sites, returned to the Zephyr office, and accumulated until they have a sufficient amount of e-waste for a free pickup. A Department of Defence (DOD) wipe of any data on devices is then performed.
Did you know that even if you delete files or format a hard drive the data is still accessible?
To ensure that the device is properly wiped a DOD wipe needs to occur. This will ensure there is permanent destruction of data from the storage device, leaving no traces behind, before the device is returned, reallocated, resold, or disposed of for recycling.
When Zephyr have collected a sufficient amount of e-waste from our customers and the DOD wipe has been performed, we contact the team at Recycling for Charity in Upper Hutt, Wellington and they come into the office about once a month and collect our e-waste and recycle it for us.
Recycling for Charity collects IT equipment that would normally find its way to the landfill and gives the device a new life by either refurbishing, using for parts or recycling it. A percentage of the sales is donated to charities. Refurbished computers are also donated to families in need within the community. It is a win-win situation for everyone involved which makes a difference for charities, the community and the environment.
We are proud to recycle our e-waste with Recycling for Charity as a percentage of the profits made from the on-sale of refurbished items go to one of the following charities: Wellington Children’s Hospital, Mary Potter Hospice, SPCA Wellington, Rimutaka Incline Railway, Wellington Free Ambulance, The Salvation Army, Helping You Help Animals and Life Flight Trust.
Where Else Can You Recycle E-Waste in New Zealand?
In New Zealand, there are many places where you can recycle your e-waste properly.
Currently, Noel Leeming is trialling a free e-waste recycling programme at 16 of its stores across the country until 31 December 2021. This trial is facilitated through the not-for-profit organisation called TechCollect NZ. During this trial, you can drop off e-waste to the following Noel Leaming stores: Whangarei Supa, St Lukes Mega Centre, Wairau Park, Manukau Supa Centre, Te Rapa, Tauranga, Rotorua, Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Lower Hutt, Nelson, Moorhouse, Dunedin, Queenstown and Invercargill.
If you have an old cell phone collecting dust you can drop it off at over 400 locations where RE:Mobile will collect your phone regardless of the condition. They will take the phones away and clean them of data and either refurbish and on-sell the device or dismantle it and recycle it for parts.
RE:Mobile also works alongside their charity partner Sustainable Coastlines. Since 2016 the scheme has donated over $172,000 which has helped Sustainable Coastlines plant over 14,600 trees and plants along waterways around New Zealand.
At Zephyr, we love solving problems that our clients have. Recently a client of ours approached us with a problem of how we could incorporate an identity verification of the user during the registration process within their iMIS Cloud application.
Currently, when a user gets to the identity verification process, they would have to upload documents like Passports, Drivers Licences or Birth Certificates to verify their identity and the organisation would then need to check these documents to confirm that the user is who they say they are. This process would extend the time it would take to register a user and the organisation would then have to store the identity documents within their systems. Identity documents are considered ‘gold’ to cybercriminals and could put a large target on their back as they would be worth a lot of money on the DarkWeb.
To solve this problem the development team at Zephyr have created an application called VoID (Verification of Identity).
VoID is essentially a ‘bridge’ between iMIS Cloud and RealMe. In non-technical terms, VoID is basically a translator as RealMe and iMIS Cloud are written in different languages. For the verification of identity to work the information needs to be read in a language that both iMIS Cloud and RealMe can understand.
By creating this ‘bridge’ between iMIS Cloud and RealMe it means users can complete the registration process immediately online, removing the ‘pause’ in the registration process. It also eliminates the need and risk of storing identity documents within the organisation’s systems.
If you have a spare 5 minutes and would like to watch a short presentation about VoID that was shown at the NiUG Asia Pacific 2020 Virtual Discovery Conference watch this video below, you are guaranteed to laugh!
If you are in the same boat as our client and need to verify a person identity using iMIS Cloud, please feel free to contact Dempsey Woodley on how VoID could help your organisation with the identity verification process.
Over the past couple of months, Zephyr has helped our customers in significant ways. Below are examples of how our team have helped our clients.
Migrating to MS Teams calling – replacing old PABX
The Managed Services team have been busy implementing Microsoft Teams Calling for one of their customers.
With increasing amounts of communication being handled these days via non-traditional methods (Teams, Zoom etc) – the customer was looking for more functionality.
In addition, the traditional “on-premise” PABX in operation was old, had none of the integration capability newer systems can provide and was also a risk from a BCP perspective (Would only work if you were in the office).
The solution was to implement Microsoft Teams calling and leveraging 2talk as the cloud PABX provider. The customer was also provided certified Plantronics Bluetooth headsets for their machines, which also allowed other user benefits (listening to online material without disrupting others, music etc).
This means the users simply need to take their laptops with them and all office functionality works regardless of whether they are in the office, or at home.
Outside all the productivity benefits the customer gained, they also saved significantly on the costs in this area. Turns out on premise equipment rental and traditional phone calling is expensive! They also have less clutter on their desks, less wires and less network complexity (their laptops previously piggy backed off their phones).
With hot-desking and working from home becoming the norm this tool is essential.
Implementing Microsoft Teams Calling is a very cost-effective solution. If you have an old PABX in the corner collecting dust and causing your company to bleed money you should consider investigating how Microsoft Teams Calling could benefit your organisation.
Find out more or give Tony Dorman our Manager, ICT Managed Services a call +64 4 473 2737.
Migrating Customers from Google’s G Suite to Office 365
The Managed Services team have been heavily involved in migrating clients from Google’s G Suite to Microsoft Office 365. Some of the largest motivations behind this change are;
- Integration into Contacts
- Email and calendars into Microsoft Teams
- Increasing numbers of organisations that have adopted Teams as their collaboration and communication platform of choice
- Simplifying the ICT stack
- Dropping the quantity of Vendors
These customers typically had Microsoft Office (Word, Excel etc) purchased from Microsoft, then had Google for email and often another vendor (Dropbox or Box.com) for their file data. All 3 solutions would have a different set of credentials to access resources and none were super good at integrating into each other. If you included Multifactor authentication in each system, then that also multiplies up the complexity.
Less vendors in the mix, makes for fewer integration issues and a more reliable environment.
Further to this, no backups would typically be performed of email or file data. With everything eventually ending up in Office 365, this makes backup solutions significantly more cost effective than handling each individually.
If you have any questions regarding migrating to Office 365 or implementing Microsoft Teams Calling, please do not hesitate to give Tony Dorman, Zephyr’s Manager, ICT Managed Services a call +64 4 473 2737.
As soon as COVID-19 hit New Zealand’s shores the Royal NZ college of GP’s website became overloaded with information in response to COVID-19 questions from GPs. With the necessity to get timely and accurate information regarding government policies and procedures to GPs, it became obvious to the Zephyr team that the current website was not providing the best platform and that easy access to COVID-19 guidance could be given through a separate website.
In collaboration with College staff, the Zephyr iMIS team created an iMIS website within a week. The website began with an “out of the box” template. College branding, fonts and colour palette were introduced to the site followed by the relevant content.
iMIS is a very flexible and powerful tool that allows responsive microsites to be created very quickly. We were very happy to be given the opportunity to combine iMIS and our expertise and collaborate with College staff in a project that contributed in a small way to New Zealand’s COVID-19 response.
Do you need to create a record of everyone who visits your business for the purpose of contract tracing to combat Covid19? You’re not alone. At Zephyr Consulting Ltd, we realised we would need to as well.
We collaborated with a couple of superstar local web developers and developed CheckMeIn.LIVE
CheckMeIn.LIVE has been developed outside working hours in a suburb in Wellington during Lockdown. How much more local than that can you get?
What started as a fun, collaborative little side hustle for our own business, has become a really useful tool that other businesses are also finding useful for Contract Tracing purposes.
CheckMeIn.LIVE is a web-based system that uses QR codes to create a Contact Tracing Register which means there is no need to download an app. Because CheckMeIn.LIVE is web-based, this also means you can check in/out from any device and all your data is held securely in one place.
Now – being an IT Company, security is very important to us, so we use “best in class” specialist third parties to handle Authentication and Payments. This means our users billing details and passwords are never seen by our system. Because of this, customers can be assured their information is secure. There are costs associated with using these third parties, but we think security is worth the investment!
CheckMeIn.LIVE captures peoples check in details and check out details in line with Government recommendations. The basic premise of the application is that people can scan a QR Code using their smart phone camera which will take them to a website that will automatically Check them into, and out of a location and thereby provide the business with a contact tracing register should it be required. CheckMeIn.LIVE also gives the business (or Place) owner the ability to check people out if they have forgotten to do this themselves.
More details can be found at https://www.checkmein.live where you can give it a go with our demonstration system.
Contact [email protected] If you have any queries, or require any further information.
Do you use the same password for everything? If you do, you’re not alone. We all have bad cyber habits, whether it’s reusing passwords or connecting to unsecured WiFi. These habits can make it easy for hackers to steal our personal information and use it for their own purposes – or they can sell it on the dark web for an easy profit.
These are habits you have to stop right now – and habits your employees need to stop too. After all, good cyber security practices are a group effort! But using the same password for everything or using simple passwords aren’t the only things that are going to get you into trouble. Here are three more clear signs you’re setting yourself up for a breach.
Sharing Your E-mail
Countless websites want your e-mail address. Sometimes it’s not a big deal if you’re sharing it with a vendor or e-commerce site. You want to ensure you receive invoices and shipping confirmation. But other websites just want you to sign up for special offers, notifications, e-mail newsletters and other inbox clutter. It sounds mostly harmless, but what they fail to tell you is the fact that they’re going to sell your e-mail address to advertisers and other third parties.
To make matters worse, you have no idea where your e-mail address will end up – or if it will fall into the wrong hands. Hackers are constantly on the lookout for e-mail addresses they can take advantage of. They use e-mail for several different kinds of cyberscams – most notably phishing scams. Hackers can even make it look like an e-mail is coming from a legitimate source to get you to open it.
Whenever possible, avoid using your work or personal e-mail. If you need to sign up for something and you don’t completely trust the source (or just want to avoid spam), create a “burner” e-mail address you can use. It should be something different from your work or personal e-mail and not associated with business or banking.
Not Using HTTPS
Most of us are familiar with HTTP. It’s short for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and is a part of every web address. These days, however, many websites are using HTTPS – the S standing for “secure.” Some web browsers, like Google Chrome, will open the HTTPS version of the website automatically, giving you a more secure connection. Of course, this only works if the website was made with an HTTPS option!
Why is visiting an unsecured HTTP website dangerous? Any data you share with an unsecured website, such as date of birth, passwords or any financial information, may not be securely stored. You have no way of knowing that your private data won’t end up in the hands of a third party, whether that’s an advertiser or a hacker. It isn’t worth the risk.
When visiting any website, look in the address bar. There should be a little padlock. If the padlock is closed or green, you are on a secure website. If it’s open or red, the website is not secure. You can also click the padlock to verify the website’s security credentials. It’s best practice to immediately leave any website that is not secured. And never share your personal information on a webpage that is not secure.
Saving Your Passwords In Your Web Browser
Web browsers make life so easy. You can save your favorite websites at the click of a button. You can customise them to your needs using extensions and add-ons. And you can save all your usernames and passwords in one place! But as convenient as it is, saving passwords in your browser comes with a price: low security.
If a hacker gets into your saved passwords, it’s like opening a treasure chest full of gold. They have everything they could ever want. Sure, web browsers require a password or PIN to see saved passwords, but a skilled hacker can force their way past this hurdle if given the chance.
Use a password manager instead. These apps keep all of your passwords in one place, but they come with serious security. Even better, many password managers are designed to suggest new passwords to you when it’s time to update your old passwords. LastPass, 1Password and Keeper Security Password Manager are all good options. Find one that suits your needs and the needs of your business. If you want Keeper installed in your business give Tony Dorman a call as Zephyr uses and supports this password manager for its MSP clients.
We hope this short collection of links will help you through the experience of working from home. It’s important to note that remote working is improved when the people doing the work feel as good as they can, in the circumstances they are in.
The Technology and Physical Environment
While we are sure that your employer has provided you with guidance and support on what technology you need to work at home successfully, there are some priorities that we think you should consider. Firstly, if you are used to using a monitor at work, you should have one at home too. The monitor along with and ergonomic keyboard will improve your productivity and make working from home much easier. As for the office chair, by the time you read this you may not be able to go out and get a chair and are now reliant on a dining room chair and table. This is a good article on how to make this environment as comfortable as possible using things you have at home.
Managing your Day
The first advice from Buzzfeed is “Get out of your pyjamas and dress for the day”. Reasonably important if you have a 9.00am Facetime appointment with the Boss. This site also has some good advice about structuring your day, creating a workspace and signing off at the end of your workday. I like the one about putting on your work shoes, somehow it makes the work environment more real!
The Buzzfeed blog is informative and fun.
Managing the children while Working
The New York Times have an interesting article on working from home with children. This was written in 2019, did they have forewarning we would all be working from home in 2020?
There are also many on-line options from setting boundaries, difficult for a three-year-old! Then making sure you are blocking out the noise. Children are naturally noisy and telling them to be quiet every ten minutes is never going to work.
Working in the office is sometimes very stressful, so often we think it will be easier to work at home. Sorry, but for some the stress of working from home, can make the office seem like a dream. From 7-minute workouts to meditation, these apps may help make work life at home a little easier.
Various headlines around the world have been focused on the future of the internet over the next few years. As countries and companies try to manage the vulnerabilities of the internet, the concept of a “world-wide” web is being slowly eroded.
Global connectivity has been all we’ve known of the internet, it has meant that you can shop and buy products from around the world, and for the most part, you can get content from almost anywhere. A segmented internet would skew the information available to certain populations, and potentially make it harder to connect and access foreign sites.
Here, in NZ many are largely unaware of the development of a Chinese based internet and the evolving of an American led internet environment. Meanwhile Europe and Russia are considering how to manage the internet environment within their physical borders.
The other perspective is the development of an accountable and secure internet layer to protect our digital lives. It seems that the internet as originally designed can’t overcome the vulnerabilities which can have major impacts on society and the economy. The challenge is to address the needs for anonymity and privacy while managing the social and financial needs for security.
It seems that the split between a Chinese led and American led internet environment is the end of the internet as a unified environment for the transfer of knowledge as we know it.
So, given that the internet is in the process of splitting, what should we be doing? Some commentators are saying the landscape of the internet won’t be so dramatically changed that it’s unrecognisable. This will be a slow, gradual transition, so you should have plenty of time to prepare for it. Hopefully they are right.
For more information go to the LA Times.
Zephyr Consulting and McDonaldsIT have announced the merger of their Managed Services operations. Zephyr Consulting will acquire the McDonaldsIT Managed Services assets, people and customer contracts and the merged business will operate under the Zephyr brand.
McDonaldsIT have a very similar customer base and service offerings to Zephyr, so the fit between the organisations is very good. Tony and Andrea McDonald have built McDonaldsIT over the last 10 years, successfully developing managed services offerings for small and medium sized businesses. Tony is also an IT consultant, a role he wants to focus on in the future, resulting in a realignment of their organisation.
Zephyr, led by Graeme McInteer and David Joyce has been providing flexible, reliable and effective support to the New Zealand market for 10+ years. While their Managed Services team specialise in the support of IT Infrastructure, they also have Consulting, Contracting and Development & iMIS business units. Zephyr have a growing presence in the IT marketplace with over 50 people on the team across four operating business units.
The expanded operation will serve over 50 clients across NZ. Graeme McInteer from Zephyr Consulting says “This merger will enable us to grow our Managed Services operation, providing a wider range of skills and services to our customers and more opportunities for our staff.“
New Graduates, they finished Universities all around the country last November and suddenly here they are the ‘Uni Army’ of new graduates popping up on job applications at a work place near you.
New ‘grads’ (lumped in with Millennials) have been given a bad rap, branded the snowflake generation, as well as lazy and job hoppers. Marketing guru and Millennial expert Simon Sinek thinks they’re an entitled generation – struggling with unmet expectations because they have been given everything.
So why would anyone want to hire – not only a new graduate but a Millennial to boot?
We are ‘noobs’ to the world of the new grad, having never hired one before – we don’t know how this will turn out. We hadn’t considered a new grad and didn’t target our job advertisement for one. What we originally wanted was someone with several years of experience, fully trained up and ready to go; that person either didn’t exist or simply just didn’t apply. Our new grad applied anyway – on the off chance and we really liked that initiative. We were impressed that she had worked while studying, had great references and her can do attitude.
Hiring a new grad doesn’t mean they have no work experience or life skills (most have had holiday jobs, volunteered and had part-time jobs while studying). New grads/millennials are already comfortable with new technologies, are seasoned collaborators, keen and grateful, and are still in the mindset of learning.
We hope it’s a win win situation. We eventually get a great consultant, skilled in what we do – trained the way we like and they get trained with ‘up to the minute’ ‘in demand’ skills, and a fantastic work experience in a fast-moving consulting business.
We think there’s much more to the next generation of Millennials coming out of University – they seem motivated, socially aware, and tech savvy. There are no guarantees whomever you decide to employ. Sinek can worry, if he wants about what happens to them “…the instant they find out they’re not special, and their mums can’t get them a promotion”! We think their success will be directly related to the amount of support they are given.
We don’t expect to see our new grad’s mum anytime soon!
Back in July 2015, my wife and I realised that there was no future for young South Africans in RSA. Seeking a better life, we set our sights on our potential new home – Destination ‘Middle Earth’ (Yes! We are big LOTR fans).
Why New Zealand?
First and foremost, we wanted to feel safe and secure. Other reasons included the job opportunities for skilled people, scenery, the sports fanatics (I’m a huge sports fan), the fly-fishing, the coffee and the distinct lack of Australians. We wanted to have a better quality of life and hopefully provide that for our children one day. One things for sure, our pug dogs absolutely love their new lives here.
After having done all the research, attending seminars and utilising my amazing Google skills, we eventually got the ball rolling through an Immigration Advisor based in Auckland; and as it turned out, she too was a former ‘Saffa’.
Immigration is not for sissies: there is a mountain of paperwork to fill out, loads of red tape to negotiate and a couple banks to rob in order to finance it. Once we had ironed out all the details with our immigration advisor re visa requirements and conditions I set off job hunting. Thanks to my eternal optimism, communication skills, coupled with my amazing googling skills (once again), I managed to secure an interview via a wonderful recruitment company based in Dunedin ‘Crew Consulting’. I think you all may recognise the company who chose to interview me – Zephyr Consulting. Having managed to secure a job prior to leaving RSA certainly made all the difference.
It was as if a great weight had been lifted. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled as big as I did whilst handing in a resignation letter. By January 2016, my feet were firmly planted on New Zealand soil. New Zealand has been tightening the reins on immigration procedures and requirements for some time. The process was very stressful but as is the nature of pretty much every government based department in New Zealand, the systems just work. In South Africa it is a nightmare trying to deal with any government based department; the systems there do work…kind of but only if you’re prepared to stand in queues for hours and hours and have packed some sustenance, a spare portable charger for your mobile device and about 30 Rands worth of 5 Rand coins to keep the car guards happy. Overall the work visa process was fairly painless, the stressful part was getting everything prepared and submitted for our Residency application. After eventually submitting what amounted to 65 pages of material, by November 2016, we had secured our NZ Residency. Huge celebrations followed. We had done it. The next grand celebration will be when we are eventually granted citizenship. Putting the Green Mamba’s (South African Passport) out to pasture and embracing the Black and Silver will certainly be a fantastic day.
Being a Kiwi
There are really a ton of positives that New Zealand has going for it. To me the people are fantastic, all the important systems work, the public transport is amazing, the country is so picturesque you don’t even have to go overseas to escape. You are surrounded by nature and virtually a hop, skip and a jump away from some spectacular landscapes in pretty much any direction. The air quality is so good they’re literally bottling it and selling it to China. The coffee and food culture is stupendous and we’re still working our way through all the wine and craft beers. As far as negatives go, the only pain I’ve had to endure is the traffic on some really tiny roads around the North Island…
NZ Working Culture
As for the difference in work cultures, I’ve been sold a lot of “We really look after our people” in the past and in South Africa I think that’s more of a slogan than anything else. My own experiences and those of close friends and acquaintances I have met in New Zealand, I can certainly say that Kiwi businesses lead the pack when it comes to looking after their staff. I’ve worked for some amazing companies over the years in RSA but it just felt as if there was always something lacking. Perhaps it was working for large corporate enterprises where you are just another cog in the system, who knows? We’re just incredibly lucky we ended up where we did. Everything happens for a reason. We have been blown away by the sheer beauty of New Zealand and it’s incredibly welcoming and friendly people. Having chosen to settle in Wellington “The Coolest little Capital In The World!” has been the best decision we could have ever made. ‘Aroha nui’
Rule 1 – There are no shortcuts. You need to be prepared. Go through the NZ Immigration site details re Visa requirements with a fine-tooth comb. If you’re unsure, speak to an immigration advisor. Having all the correct documentation is paramount as there are strict timelines to submit the necessary info during the process. Rule 2 – Ensure you are applying for the correct visa. This can have further implications down the road should you wish to extend your work visa or if you opt to travel, apply for residency etc. Rule 3 – If you have quality furniture and/or appliances, ship them over. Quality appliances, leather furniture and beds are expensive in NZ Rule 4 – Be travel smart. There are tons of current apps and blogs | websites where you gain tons of useful information on where to go, what to see, what you need etc. Rule 5 – Explore! Explore! Explore! Don’t be afraid, if you love the outdoors, you’ve come to the right place. Take every opportunity to go out explore the vast array of walks, hikes, bike trails, and the coastlines NZ has to offer. Rule 6 – Parking in the major cities is expensive. Best way to familiarise yourself with your new home is to strap on your walking shoes and do a bit of urban touring. You’ll quickly discover all the hidden parking arcades, outdoor car parks etc where you won’t pay an arm and a leg for. Or in wellington just use the incredible public transport systems.
Total approx. cost to immigrate from RSA = R250, 000.00 (ZAR). At the time this was approx. $25, 000.00 NZ (Costs included) – • Marriage and un-abridged birth certificates • Police Clearance certificates • Medical tests – ‘e-Medicals’ • Updating | Clearing financial details (Insurance | Life cover | Retirement Annuities | SARS | Banking) • Renewing passports • Air Tickets • Furniture shipping • Pugs entire process (Blood work, inoculations, treatments, inspections, crates, air tickets, Quarantine etc.) • NZ Immigration Advisor costs • NZ Work Visa • NZ Residency costs • Documentation courier costs (Local as well as International) • Set up costs once in NZ – Securing property rental (Bond + Rent) | Vehicle | Transport costs etc.
Amanda Hanan – Zephyr Consulting Social Media Producer
Sickness ‘presenteeism’ is the act of working while sick – a workplace disease perhaps of epidemic proportions!
I was at my son’s dentist when the hygienist started coughing: great loud chesty coughs, heard all over the surgery – honestly I could not have been more horrified if she lit up a cigarette and blew a smoke ring over the chair.
You see, I’m not a fan of the ‘soldier on’ brigade. There’s nothing worse than sitting next to the contagious as they spread their infected droplets throughout the office, whooping, sneezing and wheezing over us all. There’s always that one work mate, turning up, no matter how close they are to death’s door: nose red, eyes streaming, box of tissues, bottle of cough mix and chicken soup in a thermos; I can’t help think (rather cynically) they are saying “look at me! I’m so dedicated”. Dedicated to making me sick! And does the boss really love their “dedication”? I mean, would you bake a cake for the office morning tea and add a good dose of something that may make your work mates seriously ill?
On the days, the sick come into work, I want to ask if we the ‘healthy’ can stay home and then the sick can knock themselves out at their desks, in a giant whirlpool of their various viruses, bacteria and ‘germy mcgerm’ faces.
There are many reasons why workers come to work sick: a sense of obligation, not wanting to burden co-workers, feeling a duty to clients, meetings, not feeling sick enough and not wanting to appear weak to other co-workers or seniors. If you look at these reasons logically – bringing your germs to work is in fact burdening your co-workers and ends up creating more work as more of the team becomes infected.
When I suggested to the hygienist perhaps it was not appropriate for her to be at work – she said, “You should have heard me last week”! A fact that gave me no comfort whatsoever. She then said she would be wearing a mask, again, no comfort what-so-ever.
In 2015 a NZ Wellness in the Workplace Survey, said if people are coming into work sick you need to change the work culture that says coming in sick is acceptable. You should start by implementing a workplace sickness policy. Changing that ‘soldier on’ culture means your workplace prefers sick workers to stay home, and you will send sick workers home. Workplaces should also allow the flexibility of working from home while sick. One of the best ways to improve the well-being of staff is by providing paid flu vaccinations – at around $25 per employee it’s money well spent, when the flu could possibly take someone out of action for ten days or more.
So I’d just like to say to you, If you have any of these symptoms: a temperature over 38 degrees, a hacking productive cough, diarrhea and/or vomiting or if you have a contagious eye infection, don’t come into work stay home in bed – otherwise, you make me sick!
I saw the Future and I liked It!
Amanda Hanan Social Media Producer
Like a lot of Gen Xs, I can remember back in the 1970s writing an essay in school about what the future would look like in the year 2020. Most of us were convinced there would be flying cars, robot maids and food would only be pills. The Jetsons had a lot to answer for, and to be honest I’ve always felt a little cheated. So, I was excited, as part of 2017 NZ Tech Week to check out the Future Realities conference in Wellington; and I wasn’t disappointed – an amazing event; and as they say, I have seen the future and I liked it! It was all about Mixed Reality, – Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and the Internet of Things.
With business revenue projections of Mixed Reality expected to be at around 120 billion dollars by 2020, it is going to be big and the best part is the real world solutions mixed reality can provide to real world problems -without those it’s just a bad movie you once watched.
The new big thing is the growth of the ‘smart city’ and work being done right here in Wellington with the building of our own smart city is amazing. The real-world applications of 3D mapping and being able to ‘fly’ using AR through downtown Wellington, in real time, to check which buildings (by highlighting colour) are the most earthquake safe, or which street bins get the most rubbish, or which parks are high crime areas – has real world importance; but the greater applications for me is being able to highlight a free car park at peak times – not exactly a flying car but virtual to real car parks – my kind of reality.
Virtual reality promises much – the training opportunities for doctors with hologram cadavers, virtual courses for athletes to practice on, and for day to day life: the use of highly immersive simulations means the retail market is also a winner with its virtual supermarkets, personal experiences in home improvement and imagine a virtual you in 3 D, trying on clothes – with out ever leaving the lounge.
Without wanting to rain on anyone’s virtual or real parade – what about the headset? I mean apart from being heavy and kind of awkward there’s only so silly one can look at work (thinking hair people). I mean if the government can’t get people to wear a bike helmet to save their lives, because they don’t like helmet hair, imagine what chance your boss has?
New technology can often create as many problems as it solves – what to do with all that big data, or as it was called a ‘Tsunami of Data,’ – had no easy solutions. Do we just run the risk of data for data’s sake? How do we store it all?
There’s a few things to iron out, but the future it seems is already here and the way forward promises to be all about collaboration, immersion and empathetic computing (hearing and seeing together) and that AR and VR will be bigger than desktop publishing was, back in the day…
All Aboard the iMIS Train
Dempsey Woodley – Certified iMIS Professional
My first experience with iMIS was within an organisation where iMIS was a train wreck. Staff were frustrated, cynical and had lost faith in the ability of iMIS to deliver any value. But the problem was that they were looking for value in all the wrong places and didn’t appreciate the end to end engagement that iMIS provides.
I think the real value of iMIS for member organisations is that it covers pretty much all the business functions that a membership organisation needs from member management, accounts, certification, communication, event, websites, through to sales. Because it does it all it’s potentially a one stop shop seamless engagement experience for end users, and a data smorgasbord for organisations.
Organisations that I’ve walked into where all staff have an understanding of this high-level overarching value are invariably very happy with iMIS, embracing all of its tools, getting regular training and looking for ways to use the data to improve their services, revenue and their members’ experience.
Organisations that have lost sight of or have staff that are unaware of this value are often not so happy. Organisations that aren’t connected in a common goal or vision can easily fragment into silos of business processes. iMIS is not at its best when its parts are scrutinized in isolation.
I like the analogy of a train for iMIS because it’s like a powerful engine coupled with carriages. It’s solid, steady and can do the heavy work to bring you the goods, where as a carriage by itself offers little value.
A successful journey on the iMIS train requires several things to happen. First, everybody needs to get on board (have an understanding of the overarching value). Second everybody needs to know where everything is and how it works (training) because the iMIS train has its own way of doing things and is constantly evolving for the better, so you need to keep up. Finally, the iMIS train needs a driver to keep it on track. Sometimes the iMIS train track goes a different way than staff are used to so organisations will need a champion iMIS driver or conductor (preferably a decision maker in the organisation) reminding them that it’s the sum of the parts that matter. This invariably means an adjustment in business processes or even staff roles to pull it all together.
Reflecting on the organisation I mentioned at the beginning of this story I realise now that most of the staff were not on board, there had been no real investment in training and nobody was driving. The train wreck was inevitable. But don’t despair, the train can get back on track, and if the elements I’ve talked about in this blog are put in place there is a good chance you can convince the doubters that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t another train.
The revolutionary new software freeing up your weekend
By Aprile Tonto
The new Z Office261 package gives you the Z Office365 experience, just without weekends or any hours from 5pm to 9am weekdays. This brand new version of Z Office261 is fantastic for those businesses wanting a cheaper version of Z Office365 but still with access to the latest Z Office applications. Whether you need Z Office for home, school, or business, there is an Z Office261 plan to meet your needs.
Why Z Office261?
Well we listened to our customers when they said ‘why should I pay for the full Z Office 365 when my employees don’t work 104 of those days’! and we listened when you ‘hippie we love the world types’ said let’s treat employees like they are humans and make sure they don’t ever have to work weekends or overtime ever again. Z Office261 will never let you down – guaranteed just like many of your employees to never work overtime or weekends! Rest assured not one email will be sent out out of hours, not one Skype call and definitely no tech support from our Answer Desk experts, by phone or chat – at anytime after you leave work for the day.
When a new version of Z Office261 is released, you’ll get instant access to it – as long as it is a weekday and between 9am and 5pm, and in this way your applications are nearly always up-to-date!
Z Office261 – It just works… (well these days and times only) Monday to Friday 9 to 5.
You May Love Your Job, but are You in love with Your Job
Many people fall in and out of love with their job over the course of their career. Just like a relationship – the butterflies in your stomach at the beginning, the excitement of email notifications, waking up with a smile on your face knowing that you’ll be in your happy place for the next 8 hours, you even put thought and effort into what to wear. But then time passes, the honeymoon phase wears off, and it can get a little monotonous.
How engaged are you in your current role? Ever wonder if you’re in the right place? Does it really matter?I think most of us would agree that we should find enjoyment and fulfillment in our day jobs. Doing so is very valuable.
Here are some ways to keep motivated and pursue meaning
Know your why
– As the old saying goes “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” It’s so easy to forget why you do the work you do and only focus on how you do it. We place more attention on the resolution of something rather than the passion behind it. Take some time to focus on your why and discover passion for what you do.
Invest in your skills
– How can you master the art of what you do? Skills are why people get hired and why people get promoted. Investing in your own skills may also mean investing in those around you. Everyone wins when companies create structures that promote knowledge sharing. If we approach our careers with a goal of upskilling and helping others, we will successfully build a community of people who have our backs, and in turn, find job satisfaction and fulfillment together.
Keep your work fresh and focused
– Let’s face it, working in the same office, doing the same thing, day in day out can get boring. Be creative, challenge yourself to pursue new opportunities. Step up when the opportunity presents itself.
Don’t wait for permission to find meaning in your current job
– Don’t wait for an invitation to start loving your job, make it happen yourself. Be proactive and ask your boss. If there’s a project that aligns with your purpose or something that gets you excited, do it. If there’s an initiative you want to be involved in, get involved.
The grass is greener where it’s watered
You may be thinking about leaving your current job but remember that your next job will have its own set of problems. You may not necessarily need to leave your job to create a better one. If you want to get a better job, first and foremost, take charge of your own lot. You can fall back in love the one you are with but it starts with you.
If it turns out that you are more likely to create fulfillment by pursuing a different path at another company or starting something of you own, that’s okay. Unsure which step to make before taking a leap? Perhaps you might even want to give contracting a go? Feel free to chat to us here at Zephyr to explore if becoming a contractor is right for you.
Is Contracting for You?
So you’re thinking of taking the leap from (so called) secure fulltime salaried employment into the unknown world of Contracting. Have you thought it through and weighed up the benefits vs the pitfalls? Or have you just seen the dollars that these contractors earn and are thinking “I’ll have a piece of that”?
Becoming an independent contractor can give you better working conditions, variety of roles/industries and potential flexibility, but there are disadvantages too. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, so what do you need to consider in order to make a business case for “taking the leap”? Below I’ve taken a sample of the common so called Benefits of Contracting and provided a contra view to assist you in analysing these benefits and how they would apply to you.
You Are Your Own Boss (Yeah right!)
Sure you decide when and where you’re going to work, what you will and will not do. But the reality is, once you’ve decided to enter into a Contract between you and a Client it will dictate what you do and do not need to do. Generally speaking, that means whatever the Client wants you to do. So yep, you’re the boss of deciding which contracts to take, but once you’re in one, the Client IS the boss.
Good Work/Life Balance
This is very much in line with being your own boss and the ability to choose when to head home for the day. The reality is that as a contractor you’re probably going to be working on a project. Projects inevitably come under pressure and when that happens how pleased is your client going to be when they see you heading out the door on the way to the beach while their fulltime staff are working all hours to get your project over the line?
Sure the potential for great work/life balance is there, but sometimes it won’t be your choice.
This one is actually nearly true. The office politics will still be there, but as an independent contractor you can ignore them. You’re there to do a job and generally can simply let that ‘stuff’ flow over your head (depending on your role).
Having said that, the contra view is that if you’re not the type that can let that stuff ‘flow over the top’, then contracting might not be for you!
Test Out New Fields Industries
Not sure if you want to shift your career into a new field? Absolutely Contracting provides an opportunity to “try before you buy” without committing yourself to a fulltime job. If it doesn’t work out you can quickly move on and your CV doesn’t look like you had a meltdown. The contract simply came to a natural end.
The tricky bit is that generally Clients take on contractors for the expertise and experience in the domain required. So the opportunity to test out new fields may not be as accessible as you think.
Earn More Money
Everybody sees the hourly rate, multiplies it by 2080 (52 weeks * 40 hours) and thinks wow. Trust me, you will not earn that figure! There’s two things to consider when it comes to evaluating Contractor income vs Salary income.
Salaried employees have a whole list of things ‘included’ in their salary that Contractors do not. The obvious ones are payment for Statutory Holidays, Annual Leave, Sick Leave, Bereavement Leave, and Jury Service. Very quickly your 2080 hours available comes down to around 1700.
Then there is the “Company benefits” like mobile phones, expense reimbursement, car parking etc etc
Every contractor will experience it. Downtime, On the Bench, Lost Time, call it what you like but the ability to move from one contract to another without any is extremely rare. Make sure you factor in some Downtime in your calculations. Any available hours being paid at $0 wipes out the extra income of the contractor rate very quickly!
So sure, the potential to earn more money is real but don’t under estimate the increased risk being taken and make sure you’re being fairly rewarded for that risk.
Ability to Work Part-Time
Everyone would love to get that fabulous work life balance and work 3-4 days per week, and yes contracting can provide that opportunity. But there are pitfalls that make it difficult to sustain. Clients are happy to pay top dollar because you’re skilled and bring expertise. They want you accessible and available when they or their team members turn to ask a question. You may well be quite capable of “doing the job” in 3 days a week, but if your absence is being noticed the relationship will suffer.
So, being a contractor is very different to being a fulltime salaried employee. You no longer have a boss. On the other hand, you’re alone and responsible for your success and failures. If you coast, you’ll be found out. If you fly, you’ll (probably) have great success.
Unsure which step to take before you make the leap? For free advice and guidance, chat to us to see if becoming a Consultant / Contractor is right for you
My server is dying – do I need to replace it?
There’s a simple answer: yes and no.
ICT Managed Services and Support at Zephyr Consulting Limited.
Let’s paint the picture: your server is 3-5 years old and wheezing. It may be running out of space to store any more of your files and you’re not sure how much longer it will last. You’ve had a quote for $20K to replace it (perhaps lots more) and you are not keen on lashing out cash if you don’t have to! Leasing is an option, but you know that in the long-term it’ll cost more. Ditto financing the deal. So what do you do?
We all know that servers are not cheap. Understandably, as server manufacturers use quality components for reliability. But the last thing you want is your server playing up while 100 people are trying to work. As a comparison, a replacement hard disk drive for your home computer is about $100. For a server, think more $1000….EACH, because normally you will need to buy at least two at a time.
Servers should be replaced every 4 years at the most, and generally every 3 years is a normal life cycle. They are the most critical part of your computer network, and not something you would want to stretch out to last as long as possible, as you might with a desktop PC.
Firstly Do I still need a Server?
A server is the heart of your network. It handles the security around who can log into your network, it handles any print jobs that comes through, it holds all the files you (and the rest of your staff) work on, it probably does all your email too, as well as dishing out Windows updates and managing the antivirus updates for all your computers. There are other jobs it does that you have no idea of, and I’m not going to discuss them here and totally confuse you. Just be aware the server in your office isn’t just doing a single, obvious job; it has many hats and works hard. There are many variations to the above scenario. Some companies may have moved their email to Office 365, and out of their own network (great for disaster recovery!). And others may have moved their email and shared files to Office 365, you don’t need a server to do this work.
Is security Important to You?
Security is a big one in an office network. You don’t want just anyone logging in as you, and looking at your email or files. That’s one of the main roles of your server – security over who can do what. If you take that security away, you need to be careful on how people log into their (or your) computer, so confidential information doesn’t get exposed to the wrong people.
Your server also makes it so much easier to make changes on your network. Let’s say you get a new printer/photocopier. With a server, the new printer is ‘loaded’ onto it, and everyone picks up any changes to the printer from the server. Want to force everyone to print double sided? Just one change on the server, and then everyone else gets that change. Without a server, you would need to visit every computer to make a single change. Time consuming at best.
You may have worked out then that there’s some jobs your server does that you can’t put in ‘the cloud’. On the other hand, you’ve likely heard from some people who have moved everything to the cloud, wanting no servers on their premises.
Is it Possible (and economical) to get rid of your severs?
Let’s get one thing clear. Those people who say they got rid of their servers, probably haven’t. Their server may now be ‘collocated’ so while it’s not at their site, they would have paid someone else to ‘host’ their physical server/s for them at (for example) a datacentre, where there’s better earthquake strengthening, better power redundancy and better physical security. So while they may say they have no server, they still do – it just isn’t on their premises.
Benefits of a Cloud Based Server
There are many benefits of having your data stored in the Cloud, like flexibility and costs. But a huge benefit of having a cloud server is Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity Planning (BCP). Which means when there is a natural disaster for example an earthquake, your company data is safe and your server is not covered in piles of rubble. It’s a huge risk to think about, and we’ve seen some companies unable to come back from such a disaster.
But like everything there are some disadvantages too which you’ll have to keep in mind. To read more about Cloud-base Server, check out our thoughts on the Pros and Cons of Using a Cloud Based Server.
Is Your Internet up to Speed?
At this point you may be thinking, “Right that’s it! I am going to get me some of those cloud servers and dump all my onsite servers.” Ah if only it was that simple – you will need to plan this out and check that your supporting network is capable for such a move. For example, it is pointless having a cloud server if you are on an ADSL or VDSL internet connection. Don’t know what this means? It’s the type (and that means speed) of your internet connection. You will also need to have at minimum, a fibre connection to the internet (for example, UFB) to effectively use a cloud-based server. Otherwise you are asking for slow speeds of service and frustrated staff.
An Option for Small Organisations
If you have say 10 staff or less, you can get away with no server onsite and effectively no servers in the cloud. There are some caveats around this. Your computers all need to be running Windows 10, and you’ll need to be using Office 365. And as long as your company’s documents and files are stored in SharePoint Online, for example you should still have security over people logging into your computer, and privacy of them not being able to view your documents at the same time.
As long as all these caveats are met, you should be able to remove the need for any server onsite. Zephyr can help you with more information on any of these options.
So what is the Answer?
It’s frustrating and it’s one of those questions we often get asked here at Zephyr. So what is the answer? So, can you get rid of your server? The answer is still yes and no. Each company has different requirements, and you may find that you have no choice but to have at least one server onsite. However, you may find that you can move many of your IT requirements offsite, and that means if you do need a server onsite it can be a much lower-specified (i.e. cheaper) one.
What has been your experience with Servers? If you have been using a Cloud-Based Server, what are your thoughts?
Pros and Cons of Using a Cloud Based Server
ICT Managed Services and Support at Zephyr Consulting Limited.
So your server is 3-5 years old and it’s wheezing. Should you replace your server or is it time to consider other options? There are other alternatives to not having your server on your premises or collocated. An option is to use a cloud-based server, such as Microsoft’s Azure service. This is effectively renting a server for your own use, to do the job one would do if you had it onsite. There are advantages and disadvantages of using a cloud-based server, here’s a summary of what we reckon are key:
You don’t have to buy a server, which can range from $10,000 to many, many tens of thousands of dollars. By renting, you pay as you go. Say it’s a test server, then you can turn it off to save money. You generally don’t pay anything for a cloud-based server if it isn’t turned on. But then you aren’t likely to do that with your ‘main’ server if it was in the cloud – that would be crazy turning it off and on every night and morning. And in the long run, it is still much cheaper to rent an Azure server than having your own.
But of course, over time, that money is going to add up substantially, however it does also mean you will never have to fork out for a new server after 5 years because it’s now out of warranty.
An advantage of having a cloud server is that you can add easily more disk space or disk speed to it if you need to. If the server in your office runs low on space or speed, it can cost thousands to update your own server. With a cloud server, you simply press a button on a website when you want to add more space or speed – easy. Sure, it costs you more per month, but later if you manage to reduce your disk space and speed requirements, you can reduce your use and save! You can’t do that with physical disks you have purchased.
For many businesses, a huge advantage for using cloud-based servers is Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity Planning (BCP). Because your servers are offsite (potentially even in another country) that means if there’s a natural disaster, your staff can still access everything they normally would, because your servers are elsewhere and unaffected. Your staff would need to have internet access of course, but this instantly takes away the pain of having to recover your servers buried under rubble. Some companies unfortunately cannot come back from such a disaster, if they are not fully prepared for it.
With the Pros, there are also some Cons and disadvantages of using a cloud server too like speed and distance. Having a cloud server does not impact on how things connect but no offsite server is going to be as fast as a decent onsite server. Your staff will probably get used to it, but initially they may feel the initial difference.
Another problem with offsite servers, especially those based overseas (like Microsoft’s Azure servers) may be data sovereignty. Data sovereignty means the laws governing data in whichever country your data may be located in. Some companies are simply not allowed to have their data offshore. If they use a service (or server) that is based in another country, well they can’t. End of story. There are many New Zealand-based providers who can rent you a server that is based in New Zealand, and for many this is the preferred (and legal) option.
What do you think of our summary? Are there other points we’ve missed?