As the Canada Life Assurance Co. prepares a phased approach for returning to the office, the insurer is thanking its more than 11,000 employees with two paid days on July 2 and 3 for an extra long Canada Day weekend.

“Three months ago, we asked our employees to be flexible, adaptable, creative and resilient in the face of great change, disruption and uncertainty,” said Jeff Macoun, president and chief operating officer for Canada at Canada Life, in a press release. “We are so proud everyone rose to the challenge, as we knew they would, so we could continue to be there for our customers, advisors and each other every day. Canada Life days are just one way we can thank our employees and help ensure their own mental health is a priority as they continue to support the financial, physical and mental well-being of Canadians.”

More than 95 per cent of Canada Life’s workforce has been working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Following the Canada Day long weekend, the company will gradually increase the number of people returning to the office, beginning with those with vital roles that can best be done onsite. By the end of October, it expects about 25 per cent of employees will be back in the office.

Read: Manulife giving 35,000 staff day off as thank you

“We had invested in technology, developed flex work policies and were ready to turn the challenge of COVID-19 into an opportunity to accelerate change, so we can be confident the majority of our employees will be able to continue working from home for the foreseeable future,” said Cathy Weaver, the organization’s senior-vice president of human resources for Canada. “This is important because as a major employer across Canada, we believe communities are best served by keeping employees out of the office, particularly in reducing the stress on transit systems in major metropolitan centres.”

For those expected to return, Weaver noted the office environment isn’t the same as the one employees left in March. New standard protocols will be implemented, as well as distancing and all employees will be provided reusable masks. All team meetings will continue to be conducted online through the summer, even as the number of employees in the office increases. And while the coronavirus is still a major risk, travel restrictions will remain in place.

“Our goals are to keep employees and their families safe and to keep our business moving forward and growing for our advisors and customers,” said Weaver. “We’ve created new ways of working that will be part of our lives long after COVID-19 has gone.”

Read: Employee well-being critical to return to work after pandemic

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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