Positive signs for New Zealand

Of the four points in this piece on Stuff, the first is the most powerful:

A software developer in Hamilton commented to me recently that major international prospects had got used to doing business via video conference, and had simply stopped caring that he was based in New Zealand.

Think of the miles that Kiwi entrepreneurs used to rack up attempting to sell face-to-face around the world. I used to say that Air NZ was critical infrastructure for Kiwi startups. This shift, if it’s being felt across the industry, is profound indeed.

The next two points are far weaker: NZ investors have been resistant to technology investment at all levels of interest rates. And productivity (how much we earn for the hours worked) isn’t solved by immigration: importing some high-earning people doesn’t change the situation of low-earning people. 

On a related point, what’s also interesting is that the job market for developers is flattening. Dunedin software developers are cheaper than Auckland developers are cheaper than San Francisco developers. We should see Auckland companies vacuuming up Dunedin developers because if you’re going to work-from-home then it doesn’t matter if you work from your Dunedin home or your Auckland home.

This tends to raise prices — NZ developers are paid more than they used to, because the alternative is paying American rates.

So in theory this shift to remoting is really good for the regions.