Posted at 5:00 am.
Co-working space isn’t just the joy of young sprouts and small tech. IBM confirmed this a few years ago by settling on WayWorks’ New York address until 2020.
In Quebec, while the pandemic is redefining the rules of work flexibility in questioning long-term rental space in office towers, Cosset has changed its universe and made a leap into the Waywork constellation. In November 2021, the agency’s Montreal branch vacated its 86,000 square foot space for 35,000 square feet on a full floor, rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest.
“The lease is about to expire,” said Louis Duchene, president of Quebec and Eastern Canada. We had to decide whether to renew or not. We took advantage of COVID to ask questions about remote work. »
We thought it would be a great opportunity to choose a collaborative space as an experiment We couldn’t predict how our way of working would change. Let’s learn without committing ourselves by signing a 10-year lease.
Louis Duchene, President, Quebec and Eastern Canada, Cosette
The company has brought its 500 employees into offices specifically meant for it. Cosette has its own floor. “Other WeWork members can’t work on our floor, but we can go elsewhere,” confirms Louis Duchene. This is not a pure solution colleague. That’s what got us started. It was more or less conceivable to go to an essentially collaborative place. We felt the need for our home. »
Such a move could be associated with a loss of prestige… “We thought about it, admits Louis Duchene. But we are in 2022. The pandemic is an accelerator of important business values. To offer employees an attractive experience, we no longer define ourselves in the office space. Can’t. Even senior management doesn’t have a fixed office. The idea is to choose your place according to the tasks you have to complete when you come to the office.”
The rules have changed
Covid-19, hand in hand with the workforce crisis, has disrupted employee aspirations and priorities and forced companies to question where they work. The moving truck now invites itself to reflection! “We sold some furniture and artwork to employees, we donated others to organizations, to auctions, we took some pieces with us,” lists Louis Duchene.
Will other big companies follow? Matthew Turnier, senior partner at commercial real estate agency Colliers, replied, “I doubt big companies will make that kind of long-term jump.” But the demand for flexibility will increase. In these uncertain times, most companies think of it as a short-term solution, because they don’t need any work, decoration, wiring. Co-working offers all turnkey services, while construction costs have skyrocketed. »
Currently, several firms located in downtown Montreal are going out of business. “It’s stabilized in the last quarter, Matthew Turnier said. You’re seeing more businesses not taking all their square footage or renovating their current space. Office towers are emptier than before, but that was before the pandemic. »
Title for suburbs
Managements adopting the Cosset formula (and its agencies under the Plus company umbrella) are so rare that many are considering opening satellite offices in suburban co-working spaces to be closer to their employees.
“More traditional companies have been calling us since the pandemic started,” notes Francis Talbot, founder of Montreal CoWork. But we have to educate them. Some expect to pay less. However, it is often more expensive per square foot, but they pay for the flexibility. The space can be reduced or increased every year. »
Meanwhile, office space around Montreal is multiplying. In Brossard, 500,000 square feet of office space has been developed since the end of 2020, according to Colliers. At Espace Montmorency in Laval alone, the new area amounts to 300,000 square feet.
In terms of coworking, 2C2B Coworking alone, which already offers spaces in Boisbriand and Terrebonne, plans to add five floors of space in Mascouche in the fall. “The next step will be the opening of the South Shore due to the three-year construction of the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel, explains Chief Director Casey Baillargeon. We want to offer businesses a North Shore-South Shore hub. »
“The search for satellite offices is a trend from abroad,” explains Olga Belkin, communications strategist, business development, 2C2B. US real estate agents have contacted us looking for co-working satellite offices for large groups. Suburbs, close to employees’ residences, interest them. So recruiting is easy. Very large companies will drive this trend: 95% of Fortune 500 companies have decentralized offices. »
According to the American Podcast Everything is a colleague, there is an explosion of flexible spaces in the suburbs, says Casey Baillargeon. “In Montreal, currently, we are less than 1%, he says. In the United States, before the pandemic, it was already 5%. »
“Our proposal is complementary, adds Olga Belkin. But the small spaces currently offered in the suburbs are not suitable for large companies. At the same time, in 2021, I took the idea to test a multi-CEO satellite office. In more traditional areas, we see more rigidity. But We know that the world is changing, we have to be agile. »
Cossette may be at WeWork for a very long time, according to its president. “But beauty is flexibility,” says Louis Duchene. Signing a firm 15-year lease these days is utopian. »