Approximately 1,300 employees of the Quebec financial giant’s call centre and client contact teams now work in the Tour de Montréal (Montréal Tower) at the stadium and those numbers will grow next year.
Desjardins is the first tenant in the structure, which was completed in 1987, stands 541 feet high and features a 45-degree exterior angle. Several projects were proposed for tower the over the years, but none of the previous plans materialized.
Michaël Renaud, a Desjardins employee ambassador at the Tour de Montréal, says there is no definitive proof having offices in the tower has improved employee retention, “but we can confirm the new site represents an effective way to attract new talent.”
Desjardins initially signed a 15-year lease for seven floors with the Olympic Park, with three five-year renewal options. In October, Desjardins opted to lease an additional two floors – the eighth and ninth – with more than 17,000 square feet, to support growth in its client relation teams.
Unifies 1,600 Desjardins employees
Once that deal comes into effect in 2020, Desjardins will occupy 167,519 square feet of office space in the tower, or 87 per cent of the available space.
Renaud says the plan was to assemble client relations and call centre employees in one site in Montreal’s East End – where more than 60 per cent of the employees live.
It needed a site capable of housing up to 1,600 employees and accessible to mass transit and near major roads. The teams were previously scattered in three offices on l’Assomption Boulevard, de Maisonneuve W. Boulevard and in the Complexe Desjardins downtown.
After analyzing several proposals, the Olympic Park stood out for its location, access to two Metro stations (Pie-IX and Viau), parking and surrounding lifestyle.
It offers access to nearby Maisonneuve Park, the Biodôme, Insectarium and Botanical Gardens and the Parc olympique’s aquatic and sports centre.
The Régie des installations olympique (RIO) – the provincial government body that oversees the Olympic Park – spent $144 million to bring the tower to office leasing standards.
(Last spring, the provincial government gave the Olympic Park additional powers and renamed the RIO the Société de développement et de mise en valeur du Parc olympique.)
Designed by Provencher-Roy, the open-plan offices consist of a variety of unassigned work areas equipped with state-of-the-art technology to facilitate the mobility of employees. The only closed offices are for meetings or training sessions.
Tower offers Olympic Stadium views
Upon entering the facility, employees can see the interior of the Olympic Stadium through windows. The offices themselves feature high ceilings and large windows offering obstruction-free views of the surrounding Olympic Park and river in the distance.
“Being in the tallest inclined tower in the world, with its immense curtain walls and abundant light, make it an unusual place to work,” Renaud says.
“The adaptation period was very fast and the comments have been almost entirely positive.”
The offices include a large cafeteria on the second floor, games room and relaxation areas. A wifi-enabled exterior patio allows employees to work outside during the summer.
Employees, who work in the offices from 6 a.m. to midnight seven days per week, also have access to corporate memberships for sports installations in the Olympic Park.
Renaud notes the site is “sometimes disliked.” Indeed, the controversial stadium has been dubbed The Big Owe by many Montrealers for huge cost over-runs prior to and after the 1976 Olympics.
However, “in developing the site, we were part of a project that helped showcase the beauty of the tower.”
Olympic Park still open to tourists
With Desjardins in the tower, the Olympic Park has also become a major employer in the city’s East End.
Despite Desjardins’ occupancy of most of the building, the tower remains open to tourists. A glass-encased funicular that holds up to 50 brings visitors on a two-minute ride to an observatory at the top.
According to the Olympic Park, some 23,020 square feet of office space is still available for lease in the tower’s top five floors, from the 10th to the 14th.
Given the building’s shape, the upper floors are smaller and range from 3,700 to 6,500 square feet.
The Olympic Park touts lower rents than downtown Montréal, acccess to nearby sports and cultural activities, access to two Métro stations and 10 bus lines, including a reserved route on Pie-IX Boulevard, shared bike stations and indoor parking at competitive rates.
Meanwhile, the Olympic Park has launched a call for qualified candidates to design, build, finance and maintain a new roof for Olympic Stadium. The existing roof has been subject to a number of embarrassing and much-publicized tears over the years.
The deadline is Jan. 29, 2020 and the chosen concept for the stadium’s new roof will be made public in 2021.