Sun Life Financial Inc. is supporting employees working in a hybrid arrangement with its new activity-based, people-focused workspace in Waterloo, Ont.

“We’ve been on a journey of rethinking work since before the [coronavirus] pandemic,” says Helena Pagano, executive vice-president, chief people and culture officer at Sun Life. “We knew with changing employee expectations, increasing competition for talent [and] the impact of technology on roles, the nature of work was going to change quite a bit over the coming years.

“The pandemic accelerated that for us, but it’s proving to be an effective strategy for keeping our people engaged and productive.”

Read: Hootsuite incorporating wellness, DEI into redesigned workspace

The company is testing different spaces with an emphasis on intentional connection, such as “collaboration zones” for groups to meet and share ideas, soundproof pods for confidential conversations, technology-enabled meeting spaces for hybrid work and reflection and relaxation rooms to support employee well-being.

Sun Life’s strategy is more about figuring out which tasks can be done remotely versus onsite, as opposed to setting a fixed number of days in the office, says Pagano. “Our goal is to achieve our principle of flexibility meeting business and client needs.

“To date, we’ve seen flexibility is truly delivering for clients [and] its driving employee engagement and delivering business results. We continue to focus on understanding the activities that make sense to be done in person . . . and the activities that are independent of a work location.”

Read: 61% of Canadian employers using hybrid work model: survey

Flexibility is a terrific way to support employee well-being, she says, adding it allows people to work in a way that helps them balance other priorities such as meeting client needs and focusing on their physical and mental health.

“The new design embeds a fair amount of flexibility for people to choose where their work is most productive. We wanted balanced, comfortable and conducive workspaces to collaborate and connect with colleagues. We even [chose specific] finishes and lighting in the office that are conducive to the mindset, well-being and tone.”

The company is currently testing the space with different employees and different types of work, whether they come together for projects or they’re an intact team, says Pagano, adding employee feedback on the new space has been positive.

Read: CIBC prioritizing accessibility, inclusion in new office space