Cossette eyes the future with a move into WeWork

The agency is relocating in Montreal as part of a pilot project intended to provide greater flexibility to itself and its employees.
WeWork - 1010SteCatherine01 (photo credit_ WeWork)

Cossette Montreal is forging into what it calls the future of work with a new pilot project that sees the agency relocate its physical office into the city’s WeWork space.

The move was prompted not only by the global pandemic and employee feedback resulting from it, but also because the company’s office lease was coming to an end in the fall, according to Louis Duchesne, president of Quebec and East for the agency. It will involve not only Cossette, but all Montreal-based Vision7 agencies, including K72, Cossette Média, Citizen, Jungle and Impact Research.

“Our people have been experiencing, for a year now, a new reality, with some positives and negatives, new advantages and disadvantages,” explains Duchesne. “So we started a thought process last spring, and we did our homework.”

That “homework” consisted of internal focus groups and three quantitative surveys for employees, as well as conversations with the agency’s clients and research of literature – primarily case studies – on new types of working models, he says. It also entailed investigating all of the options for the agency’s office space.

What Cossette found in its consultations with employees was that “barely anyone told us they want to go back to the way things were before the pandemic,” says Duchesne. “The vast majority of employees wanted a hybrid model, where they could combine a physical presence at the office with remote work based on different moments or needs that they have.”

Armed with that feedback from employees and a desire for greater flexibility with respect to its physical space – amid uncertainty stemming from the pandemic, the agency preferred not to lock into a long-term commercial real estate lease – Cossette decided to engage in “live R&D,” Duchesne says, hence the WeWork pilot project that it announced via a quirky video in February.

Under the new arrangement, some space will be made available exclusively to Vision7 – the group of agencies to which Cossette belongs – while employees will also have access to WeWork’s shared spaces.

Along with the new physical space, Cossette will embrace what it calls a “structured hybrid model,” says Duchesne. That model will consist of “collaborative time, where every employee needs to be available not only in their agenda but sometimes physically,” and “flex time,” during which they can work remotely and have greater control over their schedule.

The goal of these changes is to provide greater flexibility for the company as it enters the new, post-pandemic reality.

“We don’t pretend to know precisely what the future is going to look like or how people will adapt, but what we know is that things are going to change, and keep changing,” says Duchesne. “We’re giving ourselves the chance to react, to adapt and to optimize on a continuing basis.”