Can a safe getaway in your own city help boost your productivity? Here’s what journalist Théo Dupuis-Carbonneau experienced during her remote work retreat at Le Germain Hotel Montreal.
Other than a short stint as a freelance writer after I left university, I’ve always held positions where I needed to physically be in an office. Some employers were completely closed to the idea of working remotely, while others were more flexible ... but I have never, ever had to work from home for such a long stretch.
This new 'digital nomad' reality — I'm a journalist, so all I need is my laptop and a solid internet connection to work from just about anywhere! — is certainly practical, but you could say that lately, the advantages seem rather limited.
We’re all familiar with the “staycation” concept, and I’m a huge fan of exploring my own city and its surroundings when I’m on vacation. But the situation of these past few months has made me want to reinvent the formula, by transforming a stay at Le Germain Hotel Montreal into a remote working retreat. On the agenda: Two days just for me, alone in a gorgeous suite, with no distractions.
The perfect environment
Sure, for the first few months of working remotely I was happy to be able to do a load of laundry in between two virtual meetings, or take advantage of a lull in my emails to get a bit of housework done; but I was quickly disillusioned. Watching dirty dishes pile up as fast as my deadlines quickly became overwhelming, particularly in a small space. So I decided to time my stay at Hotel Le Germain Montreal with the closing of the November issue of ELLE Quebec. It was there in that immaculate room, swimming in light and far removed from all my household chores, that I could re-read all my final layouts, write up my directives for the upcoming issue, and conduct some virtual interviews — in an exceptional environment, thanks to the hotel’s Expo-67-inspired decor — in complete tranquility. Concentration level: 10/10. And the unlimited Nespresso coffee likely didn’t hurt, either!
Another key benefit? Silence! After seven months of two of us trying to conduct Zoom meetings every day in a 2-bedroom place, it’s a rare commodity.
Make the most of being downtown
I hadn’t been back downtown since March. I really missed strolling in the sun and discovering new foodie hotspots while grabbing some lunch. I took advantage of my remote work retreat by stretching my legs every day at lunch hour and in doing so, I discovered two places with menus that were as healthy as they were delicious. The first, Foodchain, is situated at the corner of McGill College Avenue and Cathcart Street and features a fast-food format anchored in fresh and abundant vegetables. The second, Café Livia, is at the corner of Peel Street and Maisonneuve Boulevard and offers salads, sandwiches and delicious poke bowls, as well as a selection of matcha-based beverages. What could be better than a vitamin-packed lunch to turbo-charge the rest of your day?
Mix business with pleasure
As my stay was before the second wave and the new government restrictions, I had a very exciting event waiting for me at the end of my first day: dinner at the hotel restaurant*, Le Boulevardier. I was even able to take my cheese plate (which I swapped my dessert for) to go, so that I could enjoy it in my room while watching Occupation Double before drifting off to sleep.
An experience to be repeated
My remote work retreat allowed me to concentrate and reach the end of my (very) long to-do list, right before going on vacation the following week. Breaking away from my day-to-day life at a time when options are limited has proven to be extremely beneficial for my productivity. It was also a great way to kill two birds with one stone, by supporting a local business that I really love. I don't know what the future holds, but in terms of working remotely and a change of scenery, it’s an experience that I would definitely like to repeat ... and, who knows — maybe one day somewhere other than Montreal!
* In-room dining now available