Inside: Havas Village Montréal

This spring, the team in Québec packed up their boxes and moved into their new home—Village Montréal. This makes Village No. 48, but the space has several features that you won’t be able to find in any other Havas Village, such as its connection to the Montréal’s so-called underground city.

Take the tour, and meet the team.

What does this new space mean for Villagers in Montréal?

Our new space means that the whole Havas Montréal team is (finally) under one roof, after the acquisition of TP1 in June 2016. The spacious design will help ideas circulate as easily as sunlight, thanks to open areas and common spaces that encourage collaborative work. It creates greater opportunity for serendipity to slip into our creative product.

Havas Montréal is a very human place. It is part of who we are. We take care of each other. We share meals on a daily basis, we face off at the ping pong table, we organize sports activities outside work hours. We truly love spending time together. Recognizing the human being in each other makes us better able to dig for insights and further fuels the passion for what we do.

What are the biggest changes that you’ve seen in your Village in recent years?

Following the acquisition of TP1 and the merger of our teams, everyone is busy building a new common culture. The two teams are very different, bringing together different age groups, experiences, and even clothing styles, so the biggest challenges in the foundation of this new creative family are reviewing our internal processes and enabling greater collaboration.

How does the city where you work affect the culture of your Village?

Montréal is a diverse, bilingual, and creative city. It is home to more students, more artists, and more creative professionals than most other North American cities. It is also a technology hub and an innovation center for the artificial intelligence revolution.

How does the actual physical environment contribute to the morale and mood of Villagers?

Everything about our office radiates our Montréal pride. Our space was designed by a talented local architect to give our team a luminous and open space to ideate in. We also worked with Montreal artisans to produce custom lighting, furniture, and other decorative touches. Even the treats we have in the kitchen—kombucha, fresh fruit, and granola—encourage small businesses in the city we love. Being able to share this space with our friends and peers, by welcoming them to our conferences and events, has positioned Havas Montréal as a hub for great ideas, unforgettable encounters, and creative new solutions.

If you can’t find who you’re looking for at their desk, then you head to the kitchen and the “big room”, which is a massive, luminous space that, previous to our renovations, had been used as a storage and printing area. To get there, simply follow the sound of loud conversations, laughter and good-natured trash-talking at the foosball table.

What recent work is most talked about around the Village?

Sloche, Circle K’s private brand of frozen beverage sold in Quebec (similar to the much-loved Slush Puppie).

What’s the biggest office conversation piece in the Village?

The Montréal Canadiens, GIFs, and the crazy number of times that people come into the office wearing similar outfits (work twins!).  

What might those who don’t work at your Village be surprised to know about the culture in your Village?

We sometimes dance at lunch time. Havas Montréal is actively involved in LunchBeat, a one-day midday dance party that started in Stockholm and was brought to Montreal by our CEO, Jan-Nicolas Vanderveken, a few years ago, giving downtown workers a much-needed boost for the afternoon. And maybe close a few business deals or two by the turntables.

Havas Montréal CEO Jan-Nicolas Vanderveken

What specific steps is your team taking to advance the Together ethos here at Havas?

Our people have truly remarkable profiles with hybrid skill sets. There are UX strategists, creative technologists, and SEO copywriters. Innovation can come from a variety of places and is enriched through a clash of ideas. The best way to kill a creative culture is to limit the skills and POVs at the agency.  We choose people with atypical profiles and backgrounds because we constantly want to disrupt the status quo.

What unique steps are you implementing to promote collaboration at your office?

Since the desire to collaborate is already there, all we did was provide the tools. We use Slack to exchange ideas and communicate, but there are also plenty of cozy common areas where creatives can stretch out their concepts and a studio with chalkboard walls, where strategists can plot the architecture of their ideas.

What do you wish that you could have in your Village that you feel is missing now?

A shower. Following our partnership with Société des Transport de Montréal (Montréal’s public transportation network), almost no one drives to the office anymore. Instead, we bus, we Bixi, and we Metro to work. Montréal is made for cyclists, but since summers are as hot as winters are cold, you definitely need a refresh when you get into the office.

Name and describe something that’s at your Village that, most likely, you wouldn’t find in any other Villages?

Americans have “happy hour” and the French have “apéro”, but in Quebec, we have the “cinq-à-sept” (or, 5–7 p.m.). As a North American city with European flair, we raise our first glass to toast the business day and then a second to celebrate our festival-loving, Latin roots. Oh, and we have an actual-size horse statue with a lamp on his head.

Also, our Village is connected to Montréal’s famous underground city. This means that even when it’s –20°C (–4°F), we can travel to our clients’ offices without having to go outside. This probably makes us the only Village in the world with a network of underground tunnels that James Bond would be envious of. And let’s be frank, how else could we convince you to visit us in the middle of our Canadian winter?