Inside Sun Life’s new corporate HQ

From interactive walls to world-class views, the new state-of-the-art building is designed to foster collaboration and innovation.

Inside Sun Life’s new corporate HQ
href="/ca/companies/sun-life/120876">Sun Life has officially started the move to its brand new office building with close to 2,000 employees set to enter the state-of-the-art space in the coming weeks.

“We’re pretty proud of the building itself,” CHRO Carrie Blair told HRM. “We feel the environment and atmosphere we’ve created is not only going to foster innovation, it’s going to help up attract and retain talent too.”

Located in Toronto’s South Core financial district, the building comes with towering views over Lake Ontario, over 400 dedicated collaboration spaces and integrated digital technology throughout.

Here, Blair offers insight into some of the new additions and explains how the firm took employee feedback on board to not only drive engagement but also save money.

Training capabilities

“We really enhanced all of our training facilities in the building so we can train up to 150 people in one room or we can split that room off into smaller spaces,” says Blair.

“All the separating walls are whiteboards and we’ve got portable whiteboards too which is part of our push to ban paper in training rooms and become more sustainable.”



Collaboration

“Every floor has a café on it facing south towards the lake,” says Blair. “They’re not only spaces where people can go and eat lunch or have a coffee, they’re also spaces where employees can come together and collaborate.”

  

Company history

“We wanted to find ways for our employees to interact both with our history and our future so we built a digital canvas, like in a museum when you have a timeline spread across many decades,” explains Blair.

“We built that in and our employees told us they loved the fact that our archives have travelled but we’ve served them up in a modern way.”



Digital interaction

“We’ve got interactive features where you can stand on a place on the floor, point to the wall and you can interact with Sun Life around the world,” says Blair. “You can see our premises, you can learn about our products, you can get your photo taken if you’ve been in one of our training programs.”

Then on our top floor, set to be the firm’s conference centre, a 65-foot wall will activate when someone walks past it.

“It will start to go in motion and show you images of Sun Life offices around the world, our community sponsorship and events, thing we do around sustainability, things we do around diversity and inclusion – you’ll get a real feel for the company through these digital interactions.”



Employee input

While there is an abundance of impressive features within the new building, Blair says one of the elements she’s most proud of is the fact that employees had a chance to test the space and offer input.

Almost 200 team members from seven different business units shared a pilot floor and provided feedback on everything from furniture and fittings to processes and procedures.

“If you listen to your employees, really take time to understand them, and then act or respond to those things, it tends to work really well,” says Blair.

“One of the reasons we decided to make the investment for sit-stand desks here in the new building was because the employees told us it was something they wanted,” she reveals. “Now we’ve watched them utilize it and it’s been incredible.”

 

While Blair was forced to make a business case for extra funding in order to secure the sit-stand desks that employees valued, she says staff also revealed some opportunities for cost savings too.

“Like many large financial institutions, we’ve build up a large collection of art over the years and some of our employees came forward and suggested selling some of the art that either wouldn’t be suitable or wouldn’t fit in the new building since we have so much more window space,” Blair tells HRM.

“We actually did sell art and auction some of it off and we used those funds and reinvested in in our digital canvas and interactive tools.”

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