New Zealand startup offers unlimited holiday and profit share to attract workers

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New Zealand-based gaming company Rocketwerkz is attempting to entice employees from around the world. Perks include unlimited paid annual vacation, a share in the company’s profits, and no set working hours.

After becoming known in international gaming circles for his top design work on the well-known zombie apocalypse video game DayZ, Dean Hall searched the world for the best place to establish his new gaming studio Rocketwerkz.

Hall settled on Dunedin, a small town on the south island’s east coast, where property is cheap and start-ups have become a huge part of the city’s life.

Rocketwerkz’s free work culture includes unlimited paid vacation, a share in the company’s profit, and the condition that Hall’s salary can not be more than 10% above the next highest-paid employee. Other perks? Last year saw kittens become regular office guests to help employees reduce stress, and Friday afternoons are usually spent playing sport or other games to end the week on a playful and happy note.

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After a local newspaper wrote about the unusual work environment, Hall began receiving up to 300 daily Facebook messages from potential employees all around the world.

Hall, an ex-air force officer for the Royal New Zealand Air Force, said: “When I heard about the idea of unlimited paid leave in places like Silicon Valley, it was about the issues it called, because the culture arose where the employees didn’t take leave. So, our staff can take unlimited leave in addition to New Zealand’s annual leave of 4 weeks. My time spent in the army had a great influence on my ideas about this, where people are your greatest asset.”

Though Rocketwerkz currently has 40 employees, Hall is planning to grow his team to 100 by the end of the year. He has ambition to make New Zealand’s new forming gaming industry as great as it’s prosperous film industry.

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The young CEO claims that while his workplace culture can lead to missed deadlines and empty desks, it is designed to give employees the autonomy they need to manage their personal lives. This includes going to the bank or health appointments, or staying home to solve several personal problems. “By giving our staff unlimited time to sort out any issues with their homes or personal lives, it means when they do come to work their mind is unburdened and they’re ready to focus,” Hall said.

Emily Lampitt, from Britain, is a 3D junior artist who has been working in the company for a year-and-a-half.

Emily says that the work culture played a huge role in her decision to move to New Zealand, and she has used it to visit her family or take long weekends for having a complete rest.

“The flexibility has made me feel much more relaxed, and it really has made my life easier,” Emily said. “That internal-stress I used to feel in a traditional hierarchical work environment has gone. When I am at work now it is because I want to be, because I am passionate, not because I am afraid of my boss or watching the clock.”

This month opposition leader Andrew Little visited Dunedin and said if Labour was elected to government in the September elections it would invest about $10m in the Dunedin gaming industry, with the goal of eventually making it a $1bn industry.