Samuel Negash is an architectural graduate, and his role at Monk Mackenzie is his first job. He comes to the office every weekday, because he thinks the hands-on training he gets there couldn't be replicated if he was working from home.


We interviewed him as part of a series talking to five Auckland workers under 30 about their preferred working styles, the importance of wellness, and how they stay connected.

JEREMY HANSEN  Hi Sam, would you like to start by introducing yourself?

SAMUEL NEGASH  Kia Ora! My name is Samuel Kibret Negash, and I'm a Kiwi-born Ethiopian. I recently completed my Masters in Architecture at the University of Auckland, and shortly after joined Monk Mackenzie Architects in their new office on Quay Street in Britomart.

JEREMY What were you looking for in your job?

SAMUEL I was primarily seeking experience and the opportunity to enhance my technical skills beyond the theoretical things I learnt in university. I wanted to find a place that could provide guidance, foster a collaborative work environment, and offer great career opportunities.

JEREMY So it sounds like you're in heavy training and information absorption mode. What part does proximity to your colleagues play in that? Do you come to the office each day?

SAMUEL Yes, being at the office is crucial for me. As a recent graduate, I still have a lot to learn, and it's challenging to guide myself effectively while working from home. When I'm in the office, I can fall back on my colleagues and seek their help when I’m unsure about something. Communicating face-to-face allows for better interactions, immediate responses, and a more social connection with my colleagues. It's an environment that facilitates both learning and productivity.

JEREMY So were you specifically seeking in-person interaction in a job?


SAMUEL Absolutely. I actively sought out a work environment where I could learn from others. Joining Monk Mackenzie has provided me precisely that. I’m also an extrovert, I like being around others and having a sense of sociability and fellowship.

JEREMY Do you ever work from home?

SAMUEL No. I don’t find the need to work from home. As a fresh graduate, it's essential for me to be in the work environment, especially in our industry, where collaborative input is central to all our projects.

JEREMY So, you see the office as a place that accelerates your training, and that would be slower if you were working from home?

SAMUEL I believe so. More time in the office would have much more accelerated learning than working from home, especially being a graduate. Choosing to work from home at such an early stage in your career isn’t a wise decision, really. 

JEREMY What part, if any, did the physical environment play in your decision making? I mean the quality of this space here in this old warehouse above Amano, and also the central city location. Do those things play into your decision making?

SAMUEL Although having a beautiful workspace is fantastic, it's not a major factor for me in decision-making. What truly matters to me are the people I work with. We have an incredible team here, filled with extraordinary individuals, and being around these people is what truly makes the space special.

JEREMY What part does the workplace play in your social life or social sense of connection?

SAMUEL We often hang out on Thursdays and Fridays, have presentations together, and chat in the kitchen or during lunchtime. It's a relaxed atmosphere where you can have extended conversations with anyone on a deeper level. 

JEREMY If you were working from home predominantly, how different do you think that would feel?

SAMUEL It would be quite a contrast. Working alone at home for extended periods without anyone to interact with can be isolating. It's not an ideal environment for my profession. I believe Covid has amplified this issue. However, in the future, when I have a family or other responsibilities, I can see the value of working from home to support others. Flexibility becomes more important in those circumstances.

JEREMY Flexibility will be important?

SAMUEL Yes, flexibility becomes important when you have additional responsibilities. Apart from that, I haven't seriously considered working from home at this stage of my career. I believe it makes more sense to be present in the office as a fresh graduate.

JEREMY Do you see your career as a linear progression? Or do you think you may switch tracks and follow your interests?

SAMUEL I don't feel like I’ve experienced the industry enough to make definitive career decisions at this stage. Apart from my work in architecture, I'm also involved in other creative disciplines such as photography and digital visualisation. My side hustle plays a significant role in my life and is interconnected with my career decision making. I value flexibility to pursue my true passions while maintaining a stable career. This mindset is shared among my friends as well.

JEREMY If a job demanded you to be in the office 60, 70 hours a week, would that be okay?

SAMUEL It would affect how I feel as this would mean I’d feel burnt out and not have enough energy to work on my passions.

JEREMY Do you think you and other members of your cohort have a better understanding than older generations might have of burnout and balance?

SAMUEL Absolutely. I believe our generation is more adept at prioritising our mental well-being, unlike previous generations who often ignored it. We're more aware of our mental well-being and have developed coping mechanisms: taking breaks, spending time with friends, and engaging in self-care activities are essential to prevent burnout. I personally haven't worked on my side projects for a couple of months to give myself a break from excessive work. It's about finding the right balance.Communication is also key — letting others know when you're falling behind and requesting assistance.

JEREMY Does your generation have stronger existential pressures? By which I mean, there's this overlay of climate change, of which we're much more acutely aware than 20 years ago. And perhaps the inequalities in society are more starkly evident now than they were a while ago too.

SAMUEL I feel like we have a lot more responsibility on our plate. We recently did a workshop in the office about sustainability and a broad sense of understanding its three dimensions—the social, the environmental and the economic impacts. In regard to architecture our generation is concerned with how we morally and ethically specify materials in our current projects and understand their impacts on the environment, from raw extraction to on-site delivery and so on. There is a calling, especially to our generation, to have our attention on that matter.

JEREMY Are offices still relevant? Do you have to have an office to go to, or could it be another place?

SAMUEL To me, the relevance of offices varies based on the type of career. Jobs like insurance or accounting, which don't require much collaboration, can be done from home. In such cases, offices may not actually be essential. However, from the architectural point of view, our projects rely on constant collaboration and social interaction, so having a physical office is crucial.

JEREMY Are you an optimist?

SAMUEL Yes, I consider myself an optimist. I’ve trained my mind to focus toward seeing the good in negative situations. My mind naturally revolves around actively seeking out the silver linings even in challenging situations. I believe in focusing on the possibilities and potential for growth, which helps me maintain a positive mindset. By acknowledging the negatives but choosing to emphasise the positives, I strive to approach life with optimism and resilience.nection with my colleagues. It's an environment that facilitates both learning and productivity.

Photographs by Samantha Totty.