Canadian companies are turning to amenities to attract staff to offices

TORONTO — When Lightspeed Commerce Inc. staff returned to their Montreal office this year after a pandemic hiatus, they found a space twice the size of last with a restaurant serving free meals, a smoothie bar and a barista to prepare personalized drinks.

A gym and a courtyard with foliage and a fountain are coming soon.

“We make it a very unique experience and the whole office is a kind of relaxation space where we want people to feel very comfortable,” said JP Chauvet, managing director of the software company based to Montreal.

The amenities aren’t unusual for tech companies, which have long offered plush office perks for talent acquisition and retention, but they’ve been beefed up in recent months to lure staff into workspaces across the board. company at least a few days a week and to attract potential hires. .

It is seen as a necessity even as remote working gains popularity in C-Suites and staff cuts continue across the industry.

The thinking of many companies is that staff might not want to return to the office without something to ease the transition – like a splashy new space with catered lunches, a workout room and other perks like childcare. .

Some have even gone the extra step and welcomed staff with a party and backpacks with enough space for a laptop.

Many have also pointed to these efforts and their Instagram-worthy digs online and in negotiations with potential staff in hopes it will make a difference for top talent.

“All companies try to recruit and retain talent and they try to be as creative and innovative as possible,” said Michael Halinski, associate professor of organizational behavior and human resource management at Toronto Metropolitan University.

“Whether it’s adjusting work arrangements or adjusting perks or perks, organizations will continually try to do different things to reinvent themselves.”

Lightspeed’s choice to revamp its space was made at the start of the pandemic, when Chauvet recalls that other companies stopped renting their offices or downplayed their importance.

“We actually took the completely opposite route,” he said. “We said, ‘Well, let’s take advantage of this time to renovate everything while everyone’s away, so that when they come back, they’ll be hooked. “”

Most employees, who are encouraged to visit the office three days a week, were pleased with the extra space available for meetings and even after-work gatherings, he said.

They also appreciate the installed Ketra Lightspeed lighting, which creates an uplifting ambience depending on the season, weather and time of day.

Chauvet credits the new office with helping the company achieve one of its best performance months last year in March, the same month staff returned to the office, and believes it will help hire about 300 workers over the next five weeks.

But many workers are keen to avoid offices.

A Hired study of 2,000 tech professionals in Canada, the US and the UK found that job seekers preferred remote-only roles over primarily remote or non-remote roles since June 2021 .

In June 2022, 93% of candidates surveyed preferred remote or hybrid jobs.

“Commercial offices now have to compete with many workers who enjoy working remotely due to the time savings of commuting and the flexibility of working closer to where their families are and the ability to jog during their lunch break,” Aaron Short, chief executive of B-Line, a Halifax-based workplace management and safety platform, said in an email.

He insisted that morale and the broader corporate culture were suffering from remote working. People are happiest when they have flexibility about where they work, but also need in-person collaboration, he explained.

“Video conferencing and email don’t always bring out the best in people, but having a meal together does,” he said.

Despite the push for remote work, Natasha Koifman is keen to keep her office.

The head of public relations firm NKPR has purchased a new building on Richmond Street West in Toronto where her company will move into next summer.

She’ll model the office after the Public Hotel in New York, which has outdoor space almost like a miniature Central Park, and add a rooftop terrace, lounges, and possibly a cafe.

“We’re currently in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but my goal is to get people to want to come in every day,” Koifman said.

“The goal is to create an environment as comfortable for them as their home.”

But amenities are no panacea for many workers. Some other perks are even more desirable.

The Hired study found that flexible working hours, paid time off, health benefits, retirement plans and performance-based bonuses were the most compelling perks a company could offer beyond the remuneration in 2022.

Corporate culture is also important, Koifman said.

She has long celebrated staff birthdays and anniversaries because she knows it makes workers feel included and valued.

“I often think that I care about the people I work with, that they matter to me and so if that’s the case, how do you demonstrate that?” she says.

“It’s not just in the office space, but it’s also in the way you work with your employees on a daily basis.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on October 9, 2022.

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