Sunday Feb 05, 2023

If the way we work is going to change, offices are going to change, too –


Communications director Nedjma Belbahri doesn’t miss the old days at Square Enix Montréal, before the pandemic pushed everybody home.

That’s because she wasn’t working for the mobile game developer until after that happened.

“They closed the office on the Friday and I started on the Monday,” said Belbahri, rewinding the story back to March 2020.

The company soon shipped computers, chairs and other equipment to its staff so they could set up shop at home. It wasn’t an easy shift for everyone, but they made it work.

Today, Square Enix Montréal is a few months into a gradual process of bringing its employees back to the office — with staff consent and with adjustments to how things work there.

“I don’t think things need to be the same,” Belbahri said. “I think we need to stop hoping to go back [to the way things were] because no one’s going to go back.”

Nedjma Belbahri, director of communications for Square Enix Montréal, started working for her employer just after the pandemic was declared. The company sent its workers home on a Friday and Belbahri started her new job on the following Monday. (Submitted by Nedjma Belbahri)

At organizations across Canada, decision-makers are looking at how their physical workspaces need to function, as they plan how their people will make use of them in the future — even if their staff end up spending less time there in the long term.

In some cases, that’s spurring changes to those spaces, including office equipment and infrastructure upgrades, as well as a rethink of the ways people will work there.

‘Work is about people’

In September, Square Enix Montréal began allowing its staff to return to its downtown office on a voluntary basis.

Just a handful of people went at first, but that number is slowly ticking upward. Belbahri said about 20 people — a fraction of the 150 local staff — are heading into the office each day at this point.

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Belbahri said internal surveys show three main reasons team members want to be there: to socialize, to get out of the house and to collaborate with colleagues.

“So, work is not about work — work is about people,” she said.

But their office is different than it used to be, as staff don’t have their own machines to use at work anymore because those devices are at their homes.

The Square Enix Montréal office is different than it used to be, as staff don’t have their own machines to use at work anymore because those devices are at their homes. Instead, they have to book the use of a floating workstation for a particular day. (Submitted by Nedjma Belbahri)

Instead, they have to book the use of a floating workstation for a particular day.

Another change? All the drawers that used to sit under the desks are gone.

“We actually sold …….


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