The head of New Zealand's biggest building business has been marking off his days with a red X on the wall of a hotel room where he has been in quarantine isolation for nearly two weeks.
Ross Taylor, Fletcher Building chief executive, said today: "I've got a ceremony every morning where I do my workout, have a cup of tea and I've got my little chart on the wall and I cross off each day. It was pretty grim at the start," he said of the chart without a single red X.
Speaking from his solitary room on level two of the three-star ibis Rotorua Hotel, Taylor said he had been in Sydney for months and only flew back 13 days ago knowing what he was in for.
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"I've got a glimpse of the lake but it's mainly down the road," he said, describing a daily routine of wearing a face mask when leaving his room, jogging around an enclosed yard in an anti-clockwise direction, returning to the room, eating fruit and cereal for breakfast - "there is a cooked option" - marking off days, then working.
"Thank God for work. I'm not a huge TV watcher. Work allows the days to go quickly. I'm fully set up. Work's been a blessing. The weekends are the hardest," he said, telling how he was encouraging senior executives to "delegate up" so he had more work to do than usual.
The Australian was holidaying with his wife in Queenstown, then they flew to Sydney before the lockdown.
He was out of this country for four months and said he knew BNZ chief executive Angie Mentis was also in Australia and working from Sydney.
Taylor has rented a car - "there is a bus option in the afternoon" - to return tomorrow to Auckland and his home where he rents in Parnell: "My original intention was to buy but it's a long-term lease and it feels stable."
His New Zealand office is at Fletcher's headquarters on Great South Rd, Penrose and he will be back there on Monday.
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The March 25 alert level 4 put this country into a nationwide lockdown, meaning the Fletcher boss was stuck in Sydney for weeks and couldn't return immediately.
Asked how he thought some of the 1500 employees made redundant by the business due to the pandemic might feel, he said: "I've got a job to do and, fortunately, technology allows you to have the meetings and conversations. Every day of the week, you would prefer to be where that happened. Was it perfect? No. Did it stop us running the business? No."
He flew to Sydney on March 20, just before lockdown, saying today he and his wife had grown children and had no idea they would not be able to return to New Zealand freely.
"It all moved so fast. The world changed. I'd love to say I saw it all coming but I had no idea what we were about to go into."
The keen surfer's home is in Sydney's northern beach suburbs, up the peninsula from Manly, at Balgowlah Heights.
During late March, all of April and May and 20 days in June, he remained in Sydney where he was based before late 2017 when he officially took over running the company from ex-CEO Mark Adamson.
It was not until June 20 that Taylor flew back to New Zealand, arriving in Auckland and being sent by authorities directly under security to the Rotorua hotel to sit out the two weeks.
Taylor was last year New Zealand's highest-paid chief executive.
He earned $5.3m, putting him ahead of Fonterra's Theo Spierings, who appeared on the Herald's pay survey with $4.6m, ex-Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon with $4.2m and SkyCity's Graeme Stephens at $3.9m.
On May 20, when Taylor was in Sydney, Fletcher announced it would lay off about 1000 New Zealanders and 500 Australians in response to Covid-19. The business got $67.6m for 9694 employees under the Work & Income wage subsidy scheme.
Blair Scotland, an employment lawyer, said as long as a chief executive discharged his duties to the board's satisfaction, it did not matter where he was physically based.
"I'd look through the lens of employment law. A CEO is employed by a board and needs to meet their expectations," Scotland said.
Working in alignment with the board's wishes was a key aspect of a CEO's duties, regardless of geographic location, he said.
Whether people thought a CEO should be in the country where a company was headquartered was not relevant to employment law, Scotland said. The workforce had become a global workplace and people had changed their ideas, as more worked from home during lockdown, he said.
Scotland acknowledged that some employees and unions might see Taylor's situation through a different lens.
"I can't comment on that perspective. But in any large restructuring or redundancies, if you are talking about many people, it's not realistic to expect a CEO to be everywhere.
"If I'm a worker in Christchurch, does it make any difference if the CEO is in Auckland or Sydney," Scotland asked.
Taylor said that on average, he spent one week out of four in Australia. Fletcher had a substantial part of its business there and although the core was in New Zealand, he hoped to be able to return to Australia later this year.
But the thought of further isolation on both sides of the Tasman doesn't thrill him: "I'm not quite ready."