28 May 2021

Aotearoa New Zealand update | May 2021

Kia ora

I hope all of our members have had an excellent May. I can see each day that we are slowly returning to normal business life and getting on with what we do well — helping people in conflict.

Of course there have been many changes arising from COVID-19 including working from home, more emphasis on safe working and travel conditions and holding remote meetings, to name just a few.

Working from home disputes

The debate around the pros and cons of working from home is a very interesting one that many have strong views on.  I Googled ‘working from home versus office’ and had 337 million results!  I obviously did not try and read all of them, but I did do so for a few and there are certainly varying views of which works best.

Our office in Aotearoa New Zealand has a flexible working policy which includes working from home. The decision is up to the team member how they would like to work. All the great Aotearoa New Zealand team members work all their time in the office. They believe it helps with creativity and as a small office, allows each member to help other team members when needed. On the other hand, I work at home two days per week which allows me to concentrate with less interruptions on the COO part of my role.

I believe that in the not-too-distant future, if not already, we will see disputes arising from working from home or at the office. These could be employee/employer or employee/employee or even family disputes covering matters like childcare times.

I would strongly recommend that as dispute resolution practitioners we need to have knowledge of the varying views on the subject and the research that sits behind them. Whilst as mediators we are not the decision maker, we do need to have insight into people’s underlying needs. There is much written on the subject that is freely available.

One publication I did find helpful, although not directly linked to COVID-19 working from home, is Andrew Barnes’ ‘The 4 Day Working Week’. There is some very helpful information on staff and team motivation and how this can impact an individual’s work patterns.

Complaints against Resolution Institute members

Over the last year I have been reviewing the process Resolution Institute has for dealing with complaints made against one of our members.

As mentioned some time ago, the complaint handling process is set out in the Constitution and by-laws, and has an arbitrary focus rather than a resolution one. We have now implemented some changes so that our process is aimed at helping our members and their clients resolve any complaint.

Part of our process is wanting to ensure our member has had a chance to resolve or address a complaint before it is accepted into our complaint process. As such, when we receive a complaint our first check is to see if the client has contacted and advised our member of the complaint.

Resolution Institute is here to help its members as much as possible and that includes providing assistance with complaints. If you do receive a complaint from a client and need some expert guidance on possible ways to resolve it, please do not hesitate to contact me via email

Aotearoa New Zealand office activities

Our office is always a hive of activity especially now with planning for 2021/22, including our conference in November, accreditations, budgets, workshops and practice groups as well as our Restorative Justice work.

And of course as it is membership renewal time, the office is extra busy.

The great team in the Aotearoa New Zealand office of Kim, Laura, Awatea and Gerry are doing an outstanding job looking after our Kiwi members. They are always happy to hear from members so don’t hesitate to give them a call if you need any help.

Have a great June — where have these five months gone?

Trevor Slater