North East Wales

Wrexham call centre staff fly to New Zealand to cover night shifts

Image caption Wish you worked here? Moneypenny has set up an office on the coast in New Zealand

Call centre staff from Wrexham are taking turns to live in New Zealand to cover night shifts back home in the UK.

With New Zealand 12 hours ahead, Moneypenny staff normally based in Wrexham are still working day shifts but provide late-night cover when colleagues in Wales clock off.

Before opening the office in Auckland, bosses asked staff if they wanted to work nights or relocate temporarily.

A trial group of four staff are due to return after flying out last November.

The staff have been working four days on and four days off so they can take in the sights while living abroad, a pattern which is set to continue in four to six month stints when the next group take over.

Jess Edwards, 24, from Holt, near Wrexham, says she is enjoying the experience so much in Takapuna on the east coast of New Zealand's north island that she hopes to be able to continue working there.

"It is an absolutely fantastic opportunity," she said.

"I am getting to see places I probably never would have the chance to see otherwise.

"It's very different to the working week I am used to in the UK but this was deliberately planned so we can make the most of being here.

"I have visited Australia and both the North and South Islands [of New Zealand] and generally thrown myself into the experience."

Moneypenny provides a phone answering service, handling over 8m calls a year for 6,000 clients from sole traders to multinationals.

And bosses said more UK customers had wanted calls handling through the night.

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Media captionMoneypenny managing director Glen Jackson explains how it works

The company is putting up the first group of workers in a rented house.

It is envisaged British employees will spend over four months in New Zealand although the changeover could be altered to suit them.

Rachel Clacher, who set up the company with brother Ed Reeves, had the idea to base staff overseas while on a sabbatical in Australia.

Until opening the office last October she says they had "resisted" expanding the service to deal with out-of-hours calls having seen research about detrimental effects on people working nights, affecting health and attitude, which could also impact on customers.

'Flick of a switch'

The issue was compounded when only a handful of the company's 280 staff said they wanted to work nights.

But more than 40 said they were interested in mixing work between home and abroad.

Now, when the Wrexham-based workers leave the office, at the "flick of a switch" at 20:00 GMT their colleagues in Auckland take over until 08:00 GMT and UK customers continue to receive the same service through the night.

Ms Clacher said: "We had looked at hiring staff to work overnight but we weren't confident service levels could be maintained so would have never taken that risk.

"By working on the other side of the world we're now able to offer a truly 24 hour first-rate service, with bright, chirpy and wide-awake people."

Image caption No seafront views at Wrexham but there is a swimming pool

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