The nature of how, where and even when people work is changing globally and New Zealand is likely to follow the trend, according to observations by communications advisor Francis Stevens.

He and wife Margriet recently settled in Whangarei and one of the many reasons why they returned "home" (Francis is originally from Dargaville) was because the district has ultra fast broadband.

"I definitely don't feel like we're on the other side of the world from Holland," he said.

Mr Stevens worked with the NZRFU and NZ Dairy after starting his career at the Hawkes Bay Herald Tribune as a sports reporter.


He travelled and lived extensively overseas, including South East Asia, India and China before returning to New Zealand where he found work in a public relations firm which had an account with global software and computer hardware products corporation Oracle.

The two years working for Oracle in Auckland would later prove to be very valuable to his career.

Mr Stevens then went to South America before landing in London in 2005 where he worked for another company that had a PR account for Oracle.

A year later and Oracle offered him a job working 'flexi-time'.

"Oracle was based in Redding and I didn't want to shift from where I was living. They said it was no problem.

"My boss said at the time that I could live wherever I liked."

He and Margriet had a long distance relationship for about five months before she persuaded him to move to Holland. He continued his association with Oracle after shifting to the Netherlands.

The Oracle office where he was based was a 100 per cent flexible office, no staff had a permanent desk and although staff were expected to be in the office at times, much of their work was done at home or even in cafes.

"But you can get grumpy if someone sits in your preferred desk. Then you just go find somewhere else," Mr Stevens said wryly.

Mrs Stevens, who worked on an aerospace programme as a designer in the Netherlands, says she has been working flexi-time since 2006 and believes she would struggle going back to fixed hours in an office.

She points out flexi-time has advantages to the wider community.

"There are fewer traffic jams in the Netherlands now. One day a week worked at home equals 20 per cent fewer cars on the road. That also means less pollution and there is a better work/life balance for workers."

She adds many businesses are now downsizing their offices which can free up land and buildings.

Mrs Stevens acknowledged she would go to the office to be with other people and for collegial stimulation, but she enjoyed working alone at home as well.

And Mr Stevens said when staff at Oracle got together it became a social event as well as having a sharper focus on work.

They acknowledge not seeing flexi-time happening in New Zealand but believe it is only a matter of time.

Mr Stevens is pursuing contract work with Auckland-based companies and says while companies appear open to the idea of flexi-time "they're also saying that Whangarei is a long way away from Auckland".

Meanwhile, Mrs Stevens is researching a design for an environmentally sustainable sun and wind powered house for their land at Pahi.

They have two children, a 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter.