Creating a sustainable world of work: Mission Activation

Adnan Belushi, Chief Executive, Johnson Corner.
05. 05. 2020

As we overcome the rapidly changing realities of COVID-19, at Johnson Corner, we are looking ahead to how we can create a sustainable world of work for our clients. Over the past year, our team has worked tirelessly to establish new solutions and programmes - kickstarting the activation of our mission. Today, I'm announcing Johnson Corner's new strategy activated by place-based strategy modelling. We continue our commitment to the region of Taranaki in New Zealand and aspire to support many regions around the world in this decade. 

Workspace Solutions

COVID-19 has disrupted how we work, live, and travel. During these transformational times, we recognise that organisations are thinking about how to prepare for the future; How can they be ready when employees are allowed to return to the workplace while maintaining the required health and safety standards? How can they re-imagine their real estate strategy introducing agility? And how can they enable a distributed workforce to develop operational resiliency? While the long-term impact of COVID-19 is unknown, Johnson Corner has been developing new workspace solutions to ensure we are a strategic partner of choice for turnkey and customised workspace solutions.  

The return to the workplace

The return to the workplace can take place by implementing a series of architectural changes and a series of behavioural interventions. With COVID-19 being a moving target, we have implemented the first phase of interventions; implemented heightened cleaning measures to ensure the health and wellbeing of our members, increased cleaning to disinfect common areas more frequently, have made complimentary sanitisation products in our spaces, installed signage enabling safe and productive movement that doesn't compromise collaboration, and reconfigured floorplan to allow physical distancing. 

COVID-19 is accelerating the demand for private workspaces over the next 12 to 18 months. Johnson Corner's recently launched private office solutions to provide additional personal space for teams. With the workplace becoming more complicated and expensive to manage, the trend of accessing managed workspaces will accelerate

Organisations will be working towards redistributing their workforce from company headquarters to operating in small satellite offices, placed around the country strategically and, working-from-home. This is to ensure organisational resiliency is upgraded by distributing employees - preparing for a future pandemic. Workforce distribution will be further enabled by technology and managed workplaces by operators like Johnson Corner. We continue to work with landlords to make more spaces available to meet the demand nationwide driven by workforce distribution. 

To ensure teams are relocated back to the workplace, re-configuration of floorplans and workstations will be crucial to creating trust with the employees for a safe return. The greater use of technology, efficient office management, and bringing a renewed focus on health and wellness will need to be delivered to reopen the workplace to all employees. Our team of architects and workplace designers will be working with our clients and other enterprises, assisting them with the reopening of their workplaces. 

Enterprise Innovation

The world has changed, and the pace of disruption has accelerated at unprecedented speed, making innovation has become the new mandate for survival as an immediate priority and for thriving in the long-term. To keep up and grow, businesses must build for where the world is going. Johnson Corner's Enterprise Innovation is made up of entrepreneurs, investors, futurists and makers that are igniting growth within enterprises and will continue to do so after the pandemic. Our strength lies in discovering new opportunities and turning them into big businesses. 

Our restart the Core programme unlocks and executes near-term opportunities in 90 days or less. Optimised for speed and for virtual delivery, Johnson Corner helps enterprises maintain their growth momentum during this significant moment and beyond. Rediscovering immediate opportunities, revalidating pivotable products, and relaunching quickly in the market is more important now than ever. 

Don't let a good crisis go to waste. Our team is making sure that enterprises take this crisis as a once-in-a-generation opportunity for creating new growth solutions. To become successful, enterprises will require evidence-based guidance to discovery unmet customer problems, identifying opportunities based on sizing, timing, and fit, validating critical assumptions, and launching a minimal marketable product that is scalable and profitable.    

Embed a new, permanent growth - capability, mindsets, systems, and skills within your enterprise. We have been helping many organisations to empower talent for unlocking the future. Our work has been across a diverse range of sectors such as Māori Economy, Digital Infrastructure, Economic Development, Financial Services, and more. Enabling an organisation to have the ability to transform continuously will be key to survival. 

Startup Programmes

Startups are essential to activating our mission mainly due to the fact that startups are responsible for at least half of the jobs created in most economies. We believe that entrepreneurs will play a catalyst role in rebuilding our nation. In 2019, we have been experimenting with our own accelerator and incubator programme with the original goal of launching them officially this year. We are excited to be working towards launching the accelerator programme this year and the incubator programme early next year. 

We are launching our accelerator programme as a cohort-based accelerator that will run throughout the year, with every cohort running for 12 weeks. This programme is designed to teach the 12 fundamental building blocks of creating a startup. The structure of the program focuses on learning and execution on a weekly basis. Startups such as Blip E-Scooters have been through this programme. 

We have created a new model for funding and supporting early-stage startups by working intensively with the selected companies for 3 months to get them in the best shape possible and prepare their pitch to investors. Each incubator ends with a demo day where startups present their companies to selected investors. After the programme, startup founders move into our alumni where they continue to access support for the life of their company. Our first incubator will be a recovery incubator based in Taranaki, helping with economy recovery via entrepreneurship.  

Community Development

In 2019, we have been experimenting with many community development initiatives, with the goal to establish permanent programmes that we can operate every year. The area of focus has been on educational programmes. With unemployment predicted to hit double digitals - it will disrupt the entire learning and development ecosystem. We see playing a crucial role in connecting industry with education providers to develop industry-specific skills and help connect talent with enterprises to accelerate employment. 

In partnership with Spotswood College, we have set up a 6-month student-guided internship programme where students get to work with Johnson Corner and other businesses that work from Johnson Corner - gaining experience and a pathway to a vocation or starting a business after school. This programme is in its second year and we have plans to grow it further by adding more students and enterprise to the programme every year. 

This will be a 8 month program for 14-18 years old. This initiative will be delivered through proactive workshops. Workshops will define what we may be experiencing in Taranaki or Aotearoa. These workshops will be solution-focused so our rangatahi can make an authentic positive impact to their community. This is specifically targeted for empowering Māori youth to thrive in innovative development in the community, workplace and everyday
life practises. Our aim is to strengthen and build sustained innovative practices, and leadership within a tikanga Māori framework for rangatahi. It is envisioned that this program will grow over time.

This year we successfully launched a scholarship to support not-for-profits with accessing our work and innovation space so they can accelerate their cause for the betterment of our community. We will be operating this programme. We are also working to setting up an unemployment programme to help people get back to work. 

We are in nation-building mode. 

Place rebuilding mode. 

Reinforce how our mission activation applying a place-based strategy will stimulate activity

What action do you want enterprises to take?

To boldly go to places that we have never gone before and those are the kinds of leaders to enable the foreseeable future, the entrepreneurs, the Imagineers, 

It a new order. Not a temporary. It is a way of operating business, living in your personal life. Things have changed. 

Distance has shrunk. this presents a huge opportunity in some respect. Never waste a good crisis - leverage the technology to move into different fields. 

The challenges are yet to begin. We have flattened the curve and now there is another curve which is the economic curve - driven by 3-month lag. There is a positive to it - the best thing to do is to leverage it. NZ has a huge opportunity to do that by thinking boldly. It will be a great loss to reverting back to the same things that we have always done. The most important thing is that we need to tackle the highest order bit - this means - there is plenty of noise across all industries so the bold thing to do is to attack it at the top of the chain - for example - don't stimulate one sector of the market that is far down the chain - The best thing to do is to stimulate programmes - create programmes that build solutions - which create consumption demand - and in return - require supply chain activation to deliver - this is about doing the brave things - Desperately getting back to what we had is a mistake. The safe thing to do is provide a lot of stimulus at the bottom end but if there is no demand, then that stimulus is short-lived but if we create a programme to reopen the border than you become a COVID-free tourism spot on the planet.  Stimulus money is debt so these need to be serviced at some time so we need to make sure that there is a yield. 

Venture capital - you reach a point in scale in a business where there is just no capital available in New Zealand to access. The venture capital sector globally has gone to its shell for the next year or year-and-a-half before significant flows of capital are injected in businesses. We need to be open to external and international investment. The least valuable thing an investor gives you is their capital, the most valuable is their contacts if you want to build globally successful enterprises, then accessing global capital is critical. What is Johnson Corner's vision to activate globally-operating New Zealand Enterprises? 

Vision for New Zealand - Longterm. The house is burnt to the ground. Do we build it with the same leaky pipes and wobbly roofs or we can start fresh and think about how we can really leverage value our of this crisis - rebuilding the country with something much much superior. It is a desperate time but a time of opportunity to think bold. We are nation-building now so let's build things that are highly enduring.