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In the News | Premières en affaires | Perspectives on the future of workspaces and office life

Originally published in French in the Premières en affaires magazine.

When most of the workforce left their offices in March 2020, no one thought we would still be in our sweatpants working from home over a year later. But the vaccine rollout and new health measures bring forth new hope and important questions: will our workspace change post-pandemic? Will work-from-home be the new normal? Six businesswomen, real estate experts from Richter, each with their own reality, reflect on the topic of the future of our workspaces.

 

Stephanie Lincourt smilingStéphanie Lincourt, Partner

For Stéphanie, authenticity and clear communication are the corner stone of her work approach. While the pandemic might have changed her workspace – and added in virtual school for her two children – it only reinforced the importance of building strong relationships with colleagues in order to maintain Richter’s culture.

How do you envision the office environment evolving post-pandemic?

We forget that there’s been a lot of change in the past decade. We were already heading towards more collaborative spaces in the real estate industry. I miss both professional and personal chats with my colleagues – so I hope we see an office environment that can support a hybrid working reality and collaborative work.

What factors will draw the workforce back to the office once the health authorities give the all clear? What will make people want to keep working from home?

After this past winter, I think we’re all hoping to see our colleagues and clients again. In-person meetings will draw people back to the office (at least a few days a week!). That said, I like the flexibility of working from home so I can be there when the kids come back from school.

Maude Lavoie, PartnerMaude Lavoie smiling

An excellent listener, Maude is valued by everybody with whom she works. Because she’s first and foremost a people person, Maude misses the daily hustle and working in-person with her colleagues.

What enchants you about this shift in the workplace?

It will be interesting to see how this shift creates new opportunities for the real estate industry. Will short term leases be in higher demand? Will companies be looking for more adaptable spaces? There’s a lot of unknowns, but there are also a lot of possibilities. I think that’s really fascinating to see.

If we enter into a hybrid working world where work flexibility becomes the standard, what is the most important soft skill people may need to cultivate to succeed? 

Creativity will be essential. The added challenge of having a hybrid working world will be to make sure that everyone is heard and has a chance to grow professionally. Approaching this creatively will enable us to come up with new ways to collaborate inclusively.

Jenna Schwartz similingJenna Schwartz, Vice President

Jenna’s approach to her work is diligent and holistic. Working from home offered her more flexibility, time with her family and a quicker escape to nature.

How do you envision the office environment evolving post-pandemic?

I believe people will be looking for a hybrid solution between working from home and working at the office. Office spaces will likely have to be adapted to deal with this reality. At the same time, I think that the pandemic has heightened our need of sanitation and I believe this will have a direct impact on the open-floor plan.

What factors will draw the workforce back to the office once the health authorities give the all clear? What will make people want to keep working from home?

I think that people have a profound need for connection, and while a lot can be accomplished through a screen, it will never replace in-person interactions. On the flip side, there are great conveniences about working from home. Losing long commutes means being able to spend more time with family.

Sarah Benammar smilingSarah Benammar, Senior Manager

Sarah is known for her leadership skills and for being approachable. Working from home has allowed her to reduce her daily commutes and spend more time with her family.

What factors will draw the workforce back to the office once the health authorities give the all clear?

I think a major player will be public transit. If we have efficient public transit, people might be more interested in coming back to work at the office. It will also be fascinating to see the measures that the City of Montreal will put in place to attract citizens downtown.

In a hybrid working reality, what traits would you look for in your leadership? What traits would make someone a good leader?

When working remotely, it becomes more difficult for managers to ensure a healthy work environment. Therefore, it’s crucial for leaders to actively listen to their colleagues, to encourage informal and spontaneous discussions, and to ensure that they maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Katherine Borsellino smilingKatherine Borsellino, Senior Manager

For Katherine, it’s been interesting to witness the technological advancement at work and the increased importance of work-life balance in many organizations and industries.

How do you envision the office environment evolving post-pandemic?

Although some things will go back to business as usual, I think there is an unavoidable change and shift ahead of us in terms of use of office space, technological advancements in working tools. The last year also highlighted the importance of and attention to personal well-being and managing work-life balance.

What enchants you about this shift in the workplace? 

The speed at which organizations and people adapted and the resilience that was demonstrated during these difficult times.

Andreea Norocel qui souritAndreea Norocel, Senior Manager

As a mother of two young children Andreea likes the flexibility of working from home, but she’d be lying if she said she didn’t miss the spontaneous discussions, and the coffee breaks in the cafeteria with her colleagues.

What enchants you about this shift in the workplace? 

The life-work balance has improved due to the saving of travel time. As a mother of two young children, I have the peace of mind of being just a couple of minutes away from daycare, and I can be there momentarily if need be. I also have more time to spend with my family.

In a hybrid working reality, what traits would you look for in your leadership? What traits would make someone a good leader?

The ability to build and manage teams of people in an efficient way such that they feel they matter, keeping employees motivated, helping people understand how their work and role fits with the goals of the organization.

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