Living With the Boss (TVNZ 1 and On Demand)
Every morning, Isiah leaves his family's house in Ōtara at 5.30am and catches the bus to Ōtāhuhu. In Ōtāhuhu he gets the train to Penrose, then walks another 15 minutes to get to work and begin his day as a water delivery driver.
When Tony, the founder and CEO of Just Water, joins him on his commute, he has a genius brain idea. Couldn't Isiah just save up and buy a car to make getting to work a bit easier?
This moment illustrates the type of disconnect that often exists between workers and their bosses, a disconnect that is explored in new TVNZ series Living With the Boss. As the title suggests, this is a show where a boss moves in with one of their employees to find out what a working week in their life is really like.
It's basically a Kiwi version of the American reality classic, Undercover Boss, albeit one that relies more on old-fashioned concepts like honesty and trust than on weird deception and prosthetic makeup.
So, as Isiah and Tony ride the bus to Ōtāhuhu, bathed in clear early morning light, Isiah explains that it's not easy to save up and buy a car when you're in debt. He's still paying off his mum from when he was unemployed, before he got his job with Just Water. Yeah, says Tony, to whom you can tell this reality had never really occurred.
Tony isn't a bad boss by any stretch. In fact, just by agreeing to go on this show in the first place he's proven himself more open-minded and sympathetic to his workers than most. It's unlikely that any of New Zealand's famously bad bosses would ever volunteer to be gently but repeatedly humbled on national television the way Tony is during his week in Ōtara.
He treats the temporary move from his Remuera house to Isiah's sleepout as some kind of "crazy adventure", which has slightly uncomfortable Common People by Pulp vibes. But if that's what it takes to allow yourself to be filmed struggling to assemble your new flat-pack bed, failing to complete a single pull-up at the gym after work or uncoordinatedly participating in a community Zumba class, then fair play.
The important thing is that Tony listens and takes on board his employee's complaints and concerns about the job. What do you think of the new app? He asks proudly. Actually it kind of sucks, Isiah tells him truthfully. Okay, we'll get that fixed, says Tony, quickly doing the calculations in his head, writing off the thousands more dollars they're going to have to pay the developers.
On Friday, Tony puts on a morning tea for everyone and announces some simple but meaningful changes he's going to implement as a result of his week with Isiah. There's no big dramatic reveal, no tears or grand gestures like on Undercover Boss, but some practical ideas Tony hopes will offer real benefits to his 120-strong workforce. Understated Boss – that's more our style, isn't it?