Five major reflections for 2021

3 minutes

Montreal centre-ville

As part of the C2 Montréal and MTL réunion conferences that took place in october, several speakers and thinkers gathered to discuss what society may look like in the context of a world health crisis, which is now part of our reality.

1 – Back to the office: reinventing the workspace

The pandemic has caused thousands of employees to vacate the office and start working from home. But businesses are already working on a plan for a return to the workplace. Jim Keane is CEO of Steelcase, a company specializing in office design. During a C2 Montréal conference, he expressed that a return to the workplace is possible.

Obviously, all the sanitary measures need to be in place, and it’s up to the managers to make these spaces safe.” According to the expert, there should be at least 30% of the company’s workforce returning to the office, otherwise employees won’t feel as though they are actually at work. He has also identified three upcoming trends:

  • Fewer business trips abroad.
  • Fewer people at the office on Fridays.
  • Less desk-sharing.

2 – What economic relaunch for Montreal?

The entire entrepreneurial ecosystem of Montreal is working toward a successful economic relaunch for the city. For various players, including Michel Leblanc of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, who spoke at C2 Montréal, “the economic relaunch must be inclusive and green, otherwise it will fail. Empathy and respect are also a big part of the equation.” Looking at future trends, Tourisme Montréal’s Yves Lalumière expects there to be fewer short-lasting trips, with tourists opting to get away for longer periods instead. Philippe Rainville of Aéroports de Montréal, for his part, identified two economic pillars to ensure a successful relaunch: ecology and technology. “The reflection of the city of Montreal should be a green, connected environment.” Stéphane Paquet, of Montréal International, is hoping for a green, socially responsible movement. He is also hopeful that Montreal will be able to attract talent from abroad as well as Montreal start-ups.

3 – Renewal and resilience: new strengths shaping the cities of the future

The COVID-19 crisis has forced us to look at our businesses and the cities we live in differently. At the C2 Montréal conference, James Ehrlich promoted his ReGen Villages. These villages promote self-sufficiency and to him, they represent a form of sensible urbanism. They generate their own energy, manage their own waste, and produce their own food using circular systems (aquaponic farms).

For Erik Grab, Vice-President of strategic anticipation, innovation, and sustainable development at Michelin, large businesses need to come together to fight global problems like city congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. “We need to create collaborative ecosystems for the companies to share the costs, investments, and risks. Together, we can explore and test disruptive solutions and co-invent/co-innovate.”

4 – Rebuilding a more inclusive economy

Among the major challenges raised at C2 Montréal, building a more inclusive economy is a  priority, particularly for our city. According to Andria Barett of the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce, the pandemic is an opportunity to make a change in terms of socio-economic equality. “For a truly inclusive economy, we need to eliminate inequalities within small businesses, which are the backbone of the economy. An inclusive economy should be representative of our society, meaning very diversified and multi-cultural.”

Barrett also sees the digitization of businesses as a way for smaller businesses to exist on a national scale. Another challenge, in her opinion, is access to capital, information, and networks for black company managers. “We need to create a more far-reaching corporate world, and to do that, we need to promote inclusion and build bridges between professional universes.”

5 – The future of conferences and big public events

What will or should become of conferences in the future?

During the MTL Réunion event, Mitch Joel, Founder of Six Pixels Group, stated that tools commonly used by speakers, like PowerPoint presentations, will always be around, but used differently. “In a virtual presentation, speakers can integrate themselves into the image and move around, for a completely different vibe.”

For Philippe Telio, Founder of Startupfest, event planners need to adapt their tools, regardless of the event. Virtual conferences offer some benefits, like automatic translation and all online networking tools—think C2 MTL’s Brain Dates.

Marie-Pier Tessier, Co-Founder and General Manager of Îlot 84, identifies two major trends: “Augmented reality and virtual reality, for instance, help offer new, richer experiences. There will also be a multitude of offers and conferences, and therefore an increasing amount of niched, custom content with specific experiences.”