Having stepped back from his founding role at Futurespace, Stephen Minnett has launched his new consultant business, Next Workplace.

Believing a business’ name should tell you what it does, Minnett has founded Next Workplace to focus solely on workplace strategy and, with his clients’, define ‘what’s next’.

Trained as an architect and having specialised in workplace strategy and design for 22 years at Futurespace, Minnett has observed that the workplace today is less about physical environment and more about people. “For someone who has been passionate about the strategy behind design solutions, I now find myself in the most interesting and challenging time in workplace design that I’ve ever seen,” he comments.

COVID-19, he says, did us many favours, forcing businesses and leaders to rapidly evolve beyond the traditional constraints of ‘work’. “Now we are thinking a lot more about people, about the role of work, the mix of working from home, and the blurring of those boundaries,” he says.

“Already we look back and think, ‘What were we doing?’: Getting up at the same time each morning, to get on the same train, queue for coffee – all so we could be at work by 8.30am – and then do the same thing again at the end of the day. It no longer makes sense,” says Minnett who believes that many organisations’ workplaces are broken and no longer function effectively.

“After the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, over the last few years, many workplaces have been re-occupied but are full of space which no longer support the way people want to work. So how do they transition to a new workplace? What will best support their people and make them want to be there – rather than being told to be there?” he poses.

Minnett believes that many workplace strategists today give advice based on what they see in media, rather than drawing on experience and knowledge. He also points to the power of social media in effecting a ‘herd mentality’ where “what gets said the most, gets repeated the most”. Does this make it right? Definitely not.

He also observes a certain amount of indecision on the parts of business leaders. “We are caught in a moment with a lot of people sitting on their hands because they don’t know what to do. They are hearing a lot of what they ‘should do’, but don’t know what [the right course is],” he says. As a result leaders are doing nothing.

“An effective workplace is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and things will never go back to the way they were pre-COVID-19. Evolution does not work like that,” Minnett says. Through Next Workplace he is helping his clients to effectively push back the noise, to work out what they really need, enrich their working lives and bring fun back into their workplace, too.

“We believe that to gain an advantage you have to break away from the herd, follow your own unique path with all the risks and rewards that entails to deliver a unique solution that has been co-created with your best people.”

Next Workplace not only delivers insights but more than two decades worth of experience, says Minnett, who, during his time at Futurespace worked with household names like Google, Microsoft, Coles, JLL, Fortescue, IAG, Aware Super, The Reserve Bank, APRA, The NBN, MinterEllison and PWC.

“Next Workplace critically reviews what is happening in the media and the world of workplace. We do not do it as newcomers – we look it at through the lens of strategists and designers who have delivered over a million square metres of Australia’s most innovative workplaces over the past 20 years,” he says.

“Our outcome is a vision for what our clients’ future workplace could be. Whether it is to stay in your current tenancy, rework it, or seek an entirely new space. We offer an outcome that is independent.” That is, fit for businesses ready to break free of the pack, and find success through connecting with their people’s needs and harnessing the groundswell of knowledge – not to mention design innovation and artificial intelligence – that we find at our fingertips in what is a post-COVID, people-centric, hybrid-powered, evolving-era in working and workplace culture.

Next Workplace
nextworkplace.com.au

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