Actualités By Montreal Gazette 332 Views

Back to the office: Montreal chamber of commerce campaign seeks a return downtown

As vaccination rates rise and health regulations ease, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM) has launched a campaign in support of a return to the city’s downtown office towers, many of which saw workers abandon them at the start of the pandemic.

In a communiqué made public Thursday, the group called upon business owners to sign its “declaration of commitment,” a collective pledge that will see a return to office towers be safe, gradual and flexible.

“Today, an important step is being taken in the return to the (office) towers, in the revival of downtown,” said CCMM president Michel Leblanc in a video accompanying the pledge form. “We are proposing today a declaration of commitment (to that return) and inviting everyone to sign it.”

Leblanc says a CCMM poll of downtown workers found that more than 70 per cent expected an eventual return to downtown offices would go well. More than half of respondents wanted a return to be part of a hybrid model that would see flexible work schedules as well as telecommuting mixed with a presence in the office.

The CCMM says it is committed to ensuring any return will be carried out with employee safety in mind, noting the issue “must be at the heart of all back-to-work policies. All of our decisions must comply with the health guidelines.”

“A gradual and orderly return” to the office is also part of the group’s plans.

“The return will be gradual and supervised. … Nearly a third of the workers we surveyed would like to return to the office for two or three days a week starting in September. About 20 per cent of them even want to go back to four or five days a week.

“We will offer them a gradual and progressive return schedule. The key will be to have employers and employees work on the return plans together and to make the organization of work predictable.”