Kiwi Magic

What it’s like to live in the future at a distributed company

Hi! I’m the founding designer of Replay.io, a startup that makes amazing time-travelling dev tools. And I’m in New Zealand, making me 21 hours out-of-sync with the rest of my team. It should be a recipe for disaster, but it’s working really well. Here’s why!

New Zealand is only three hours behind California

21 hours ahead is the same as 3 hours behind. When my team has a meeting at noon, it’s 9am for me. That’s no different than a New York-based company working with someone in California. Totally doable.

New Zealand is a day ahead

When I start my workweek in New Zealand, it’s still Sunday in America. This means I have an entire day to prepare my designs before the developers on my team wake up and start working on features. This is invaluable for a designer, and sometimes feels like a secret weapon. I’ve started calling it “Kiwi magic.”

How Kiwi Magic helps our design team

Designers are in a very service-oriented role, because developers rely on them getting their work done before they can start a new feature. This means designers have a lot of tricks to try to stay out ahead of their dev team. Being in New Zealand has helped me heaps because I’m gifted a whole day to make sure I’m prepped and ready for the week before things get hectic.

Your results may vary

Which isn’t to say it’s all fun and games. I get an extra day on Monday, but I also end up working a bit on Saturdays (their Fridays) to make sure my team is taken care of. And early or late video calls can crop up when we need to coordinate a call between New Zealand, California, and Europe, for example. Also, when daylight savings changes the hours, we move from three hours apart to five hours apart. So there are plenty of hurdles to work through, and it’s not for everyone.

That said, it’s been working great for us so far. Working in the same time zone would be more straight-forward, but there are real advantages to your designer having a full day to get their work in order before each workweek. I highly recommend it!

Designer, writer, teacher. I love building things.