Back to work downtown | Reinvent office life

The new organization of work disrupts the city center and affects its economic activities. What happens to commercial real estate? The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal unveiled its Guide to Best and Innovative Practices in Commercial Real Estate in Montreal.

Posted at 7:00 am

Isabelle Dube

Isabelle Dube
The press

Incentives to come to the office

How do you convince an employee who likes to work in slippers in the living room and sleep an hour longer in the morning? Formal incentives such as rewards and perks are needed, concludes the guide, written after consulting and surveying downtown employers and landlords last June.

“At the Metropolitan Montreal Chamber of Commerce, where three days a week is mandatory, we pay the OPUS card for those who come four days or more,” explains Michel Leblanc, President and Chief Executive Officer, in an interview. These employees also have assigned workstations and do not have to put their things back in a locker at the end of the day. »

The smooth way to the office


In order to be able to offer public transport services in the inner city, companies have to communicate to the authorities the need to keep the offer at a high level.

“When companies survey their employees, [les travailleurs] say: “I’m willing to come back if the trip goes well. I want the office to be comfortable and safe, but if it overwhelms me with trips that ruin my day, I don’t care,” says Michel Leblanc.

In an ideal world, everyone would choose public transportation. However, the frequency of the service is no longer the same and transport companies no longer have the revenues they had before the pandemic. The President of the CCMM therefore calls on companies to clearly communicate to the authorities the need to maintain public transport services. “It requires sustained support from the governments of Quebec and Canada,” he says.

Access to the city center and parking lots must be fluid for employees who are not yet able to comfortably return by subway. The guide advises the City of Montreal to go back to its idea of ​​having real-time information about available parking spaces and make agreements with private parking lots so prices are reasonable. Currently, the cost is $25 a day, a price that discourages workers.

Meeting post-pandemic needs


Place of tranquility that defines the spaces of each

The guide recommends employers to focus on employee well-being – and therefore their productivity – by designing different types of spaces suitable for relaxation, concentration, collaboration and confidentiality. “In addition to changing rooms and showers, these spaces can include, for example, sleeping cabins, isolated cabins of different formats, but also infrastructures adapted for paratransit,” the document says. We propose the development of soundproof rooms or the supply of soundproof helmets to create an efficient and pleasant working environment.

Relax zoning regulations

The Chamber wants to send a clear message to the City of Montreal, which desires an attractive and surprising downtown, but has yet to dust off its rigid regulatory framework for mixed-use spaces.

“We want to create indoor and outdoor gathering places where alcohol can be served and permanently install electricity on outdoor patios,” says Michel Leblanc. But the plethora of permits required by the city (alcohol, space, occupancy, sound, lighting permits) discourages innovation.

“The aim is to ensure that working in the city center is a different experience than before the pandemic,” emphasizes Michel Leblanc. The chamber works with partners to find creative projects that will surprise the worker and the visitor.

Make partnerships between companies

“It’s inspired by what Ubisoft has been doing in its neighborhood to help neighboring businesses and incentivize people to come into the workplace,” explains the chamber’s president.

Ubisoft offered a prepaid card that you could use to shop at local businesses. This could be done in the underground shops of the office towers and Complexe Desjardins.

Michel Leblanc, President of the Metropolitan Montreal Trade Committee

Another idea: in addition to encouraging local purchases in nearby businesses, we suggest developing business synergies within the spaces themselves. As ? By subleasing excess space to related small businesses. The Chamber has set up the website, which allows tenants to find subtenants. “Many companies are looking for spaces to collaborate,” says Michel Leblanc. We see it with Cossette, which settled at WeWork. It’s powerful like a gesture. »

A clear plan from employers

But most importantly, every company needs to have a clear plan that it communicates to employees, argues Michel Leblanc. “In hybrid mode, is it three days a week, specific days or employee-designated days, or six days in two weeks? » Employees must also be confident in the safety level of the premises and feel that the work environment is healthy.

Once these clear rules are in place, the CCMM hopes employees can experience a clean, new downtown filled with artwork, interactive activities, and fun places to work outdoors.

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