MONTREAL -- The vaccination campaign is going well, surpassing the initial hopes of many informed observers, and Montreal has quickly moved to a yellow zone and will soon be a green zone.

This is a major step in resuming activities that will revitalize downtown and restore its previous energy. It is also the signal that many businesses were waiting for to plan the gradual return of their employees to their offices. That said, many challenges lie ahead.

THE CHALLENGES OF GETTING BACK TO NORMAL

To ensure it is acting based on facts, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM) commissioned a Leger survey conducted with 1,779 respondents. The good news is that 53 per cent of workers are eager to return to the workplace. They point to the importance of reuniting with their whole team, the desire to socialize and have informal discussions, and the chance to participate in collaborative exchanges.

Also, 67 per cent of downtown workers are comfortable with the idea of going back to the office once the government authorizes it. Another interesting point is that 62 per cent of respondents who work downtown are confident that public transit will be safe in the coming months.

It will come as no surprise that a majority of workers enjoy working from home and that remote working is here to stay. They appreciate the time saved by cutting out the commute to the office. Fifty-five per cent of workers downtown would like to go back to the office two or three days a week, and over 20 per cent would like to go back for four or five days. This confirms that hybrid solutions will become common in many companies.

Given this new reality, employers need to identify efforts to promote an attractive, pleasant return to workplaces and ensure their strategies reflect the reasons remote working remains such a desirable option for their employees.

EMPLOYERS GETTING INVOLVED

The return of employees in their workplace and downtown requires everyone’s mobilization. To drive this recovery, the CCMM has received the support of the Economy and Innovation Ministry to implement the initiative “I love working downtown.”

Our goal is to rapidly deploy the necessary efforts, including the safe return of workers to offices, to restore the momentum of this strategic area for the city.

In cooperation with downtown employers, we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure a successful return to office towers. It will be done gradually, following health measures and public health directives. The survey indicates that 83 per cent of respondents trust their employer to guarantee a safe return to work, which depends on continuing the vaccination campaign. Obviously, we need to ensure that workers receive their second dose as soon as possible.

Many companies have already begun their gradual return. Starting this summer, we need to do what is required so that in the fall everyone can enjoy the advantages of a vibrant, welcoming downtown. This ambitious initiative to return to the office towers can be done only with everyone’s support and cooperation.

Merchants, employers, public transit companies, the City of Montreal, and Public Health: everyone will have a role to play in this decisive step for the future of downtown and the city as a whole. More than ever, we are calling on all actors to mobilize to restore the vitality and energy to this strategic area that make it so attractive to Montrealers, tourists, and workers. 

Signatories:

Michel Leblanc
President and CEO
Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

André Dufour
Regional Managing Partner, Montréal
Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG)

François Morin
Director General, Operations and Public Affairs, Quebec and Atlantic
BMO

Louis Vachon
President and CEO
National Bank

Kim Thomassin
Executive Vice-President and Head of Investments in Québec and Stewardship
CDPQ

Philippe Jetté
President and CEO
Cogeco

Pierre Laporte
President, Quebec, Vice Chair, Canada
Deloitte

Guy Cormier
President and CEO
Desjardins

Patrick Rioux
Director, Real Estate Properties, Shared Services
Hydro-Québec

Jean-Marc Fournier
President and CEO
IDU

Élise Proulx
Executive Vice-President, Public Affairs and Communications and Chief of Staff
Ivanhoé Cambridge

Yves Legris
President and CEO
Nvizzio Creations

Pierre Pomerleau
President and CEO
Pomerleau

Erik Ryan
Executive Vice-President, Marketing and External Relations
SNC-Lavalin

Luc Tremblay
Director General
STM

Robert Dumas
President and CEO
Sun Life Québec