(Montreal) The big boss of the National Bank is concerned about the effect of teleworking on the vitality of downtown Montreal, but he intends to keep a “flexible” approach with his employees in relation to their presence in the office.

Even after the health easing measures, the mass adoption of teleworking has been particularly difficult for small businesses in the city center. This situation worries the president and chief executive officer of the National Bank, Laurent Ferreira.

“I’m worried about downtown Montreal and I think the business community has a very big responsibility [to ensure] the dynamism of Montreal’s ecosystem,” he replied in an interview on Friday. margin of the meeting of shareholders of the financial institution.

However, Mr. Ferreira does not want to impose anything on his teams for the moment.

The approach would contrast with that of the Royal Bank, which asks its employees to work three to four days a week face-to-face, depending on the nature of their task.

The National goes there rather with a suggestion to be face-to-face 40% of the time. Mr. Ferreira admits that he would like a “better balance” that tends towards a greater presence in the office than this threshold, but he has no intention of imposing it on his troops at this time. “I mention it generally for the business community.”

As an employer, the National plays an important role in downtown traffic with its approximately 12,000 employees attached to the Montreal head office. The bank will also gradually move to a new tower of around forty floors from the second half of this year. The project, announced in 2018, represents an investment of more than half a billion.

Telecommuting has not had an adverse effect on the productivity of National Bank employees, replies the manager. The vibrancy of downtown is really the motivation behind the banker’s concerns. “We like it when you get to town and the restaurants are open, the cafes are open, all the time. »