What is green desking? And why is Montréal the perfect city for it?

published on December 2, 2021
Green meetings Working Smarter What's New in Montréal

Montréal a city that loves to gather outdoors. Whether on a patio or in a park, you’ll see locals chatting and laughing no matter what the weather brings. We’re also an increasingly ecologically centred city, one that places long-term sustainability at the core of urban planning and development. It’s no wonder that we’re turning heads about our green desking initiatives.

Wait, what is green desking?

We’re glad you asked. To understand green desking, it’s first helpful to understand “hot desking.” Hot desking is a rotational system of sharing desks. Workers are encouraged to maintain a sense of mobility with the idea that new relationships will form and new synergy will result with regular relocation.

Now imagine hot desking in a beautiful, natural environment. That’s the essence of green desking. Sometimes these shared spaces are outdoors in either urban or rural environments, such as in a park or on a patio. But green desking could also include indoor spaces that designed to mimic lush environments, to optimize the emotional quality of being surrounded by nature.

Why is Montréal such a popular destination for green desking?

One of the reasons Montréal is succeeding in the “green desking” movement is because of strong initiatives at street level (pun intended). One of the companies leading the green desking revolution is Îlot 84, a free outdoor workstation pilot project. The non-profit organization has a mission to dynamize the urban experience through the creation of spaces and the organization of events.

We chatted with Marie-Pier Tessier De L'Étoile, cofounder of Îlot 84, about green desking in Montréal.


Tourisme Montréal: What are the qualities of a good coworking space?

Marie-Pier Tessier De L'Étoile: I would say that basic essential services must be available throughout the space (such as electrical outlets, good internet connection, and comfortable furniture). Beyond that, a good coworking space is arranged in a flexible way to accommodate the varied and important uses of work: to facilitate concentration, collaboration, meetings of groups of different sizes, socializing, and creativity.

What makes Montréal a leading city for green desking?

Although there are more and more green desking initiatives in the world, both in conventional office spaces and in the residential sector, Montréal is the only city to have a network of green offices in public spaces. Our vision is to increase the network of outdoor workspaces from 28 locations to 50 in the next three years, in addition to integrating at least three meeting room stations in the public space. We also dream of collaborating with downtown partners to add a network of unusual meeting rooms on the roofs and terraces of the city, so that green desking is an integral part of the work experience in all Montréal neighbuorhoods.


How have organizations used your spaces for events in the past?

We have been offering outdoor workspaces since 2017, some hosting organized events (such as Aire commune), and others that provide workspace (such as our green desking “summer islands”). We see groups using the spaces differently, depending on the location and the services available. For example, the summer islands are often used spontaneously by individuals or in small groups for meetings. As more locations become available, business travellers will be able to organize client meetings. Currently, the event clientele is mainly made up of young professionals. Our location in Montréal’s Mile End neighbourhood, for example, hosted an average of 2,000 people per week for its Thursday happy hour!

Read this next: How to create events with lasting social impact?

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