Office & Neighborhood Tour Series is a new feature highlighting some of Montreal’s Startup & Tech scenes’ coolest offices and office vibes.
Recent events have had all of us experience the joys and the challenges of telecommuting. Many entrepreneurs and executives are now asking themselves whether this is the ideal model of the true future of work. Yet, others deem a physical office to be a necessity, considering perhaps adopting the hybrid hot desk model as the optimal compromise. In this series, we tour Montreal in search of some of the most awe-inducing offices. We aim to inspire you as we talk about the beautiful neighborhoods that host these companies, the unique history of some of their buildings, and the office spaces that were carefully crafted to create truly world-class cultures.
Integrated sound system for parties, fully stocked double fridge with beer and beverages, team midday runs along the water at the Old Port, watching fireworks from the office window. Miss office life yet? At this company, you would!
Before I start my office tour of Unito, a Montreal up-and-comer in the tech space, I take in the vibe of the area I find myself in. I am in Quartier Latin, standing in front of the building that celebrates its 100th birthday this year.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Quartier Latin was home to the first settlement of French bourgeoisie. As a result, the neighborhood is now home to various educational institutions, libraries, and theatres. Over the years, it has also become known for its festivals and vibrant nightlife. Quartier Latin is known to Montrealers for many things but likely not for the businesses it houses, which is why I am even more curious to discover a company that chose to move its 60-person office to this part of town.
The elevator doors open on the 7th floor and I am immediately in Unito’s office – no hallway to walk through:
The first thing I notice are the large windows. On one side, the view is breathtakingly unique yet typical to Montreal: skyscrapers and churches.
One the other side, I see the Jacques Cartier bridge. Unito’s team members can watch fireworks through an unobstructed view directly from that side of the office. The office is completely vacant right now because of the pandemic and I cannot help but wonder whether it will be buzzing with life during the fireworks season this summer. After all, this beautiful office space is made for team bonding and memories created together.
Unito’s hospitable Office Manager Andrea Ramirez proudly shows me the impressive A/V system with a surround sound system. She plays some music and offers me a beverage from the fully stocked fridge.
Before I am completely overcome with nostalgia about get togethers and parties, we continue our tour of the beautiful office. I notice that everything looks brand new and Andrea shares that the company moved to the new space in October, in the middle of the pandemic. I wonder why they decided to invest in a custom re-build of a new space while so many other companies are shifting their operations permanently remote. The answer is in perfect alignment with Unito’s core values: collaboration and transparency. The team excels when working together and building on each other’s energy. A hybrid model offers the best of both worlds providing a space employees can choose to come to for collaboration, inspiration, and possibly being able to do their best work.
There are a lot of interesting features designed by an architecture firm Unito partnered up with for their office design. One of such features is a partitioned wall, both sides of which are painted with whiteboard paint. Partitions can be rotated either to close the place off or to open it up.
I see a phone booth, hangout areas, and standing desks – all now to-be-expected features of a modern office.
What I did not expect to see is a nap room! Andrea shares that the room is heavily used by the company’s Founder and occasionally by some of the team members. There are proven health benefits of power naps, but I wonder how many companies would encourage employees to take sleeping breaks during the day.
We walk down the hallway and I am admiring brightly colored meeting rooms.
Who knows when the pandemic will be over, and we are allowed back into our office spaces? Who knows what the future of work will be like? One thing is certain, however. These “made with love in Montreal” spaces are meant to inspire, unite, and connect us.