In recent years Sun Life has transformed its operations, adopting many qualities of startup companies. As its leaders have worked to establish a culture that emphasizes ideation and innovation, this has included reimagining its workplace.
HOK helped Sun Life redesign this space to consolidate more than 2,000 employees from two locations into 14-and-a-half floors of the 35-story One York Street Tower in Toronto’s financial district. This new vertical headquarters supports Sun Life’s desire to leverage the latest in digital innovation and data analytics and to offer employees choices about how and where they work.
Our designers and Sun Life’s project team—led by its CRE and HR departments with the support of IT—began by gathering recommendations from all levels of staff. The team learned that they wanted space that would flex to support how and where they wanted to work. As part of the change management process, the design team worked with 25 Sun Life business groups to significantly reduce the size and number of private offices.
The open plan workplace provides a bright, flexible environment with a variety of collaboration and meeting spaces. An agility program frees employees to work from any location. Meeting spaces and smaller work rooms have integrated audiovisual and plug-and-play equipment. All workstations have sit-stand desks. Glass-fronted offices and meeting rooms create a sense of transparency. A variety of seating options offer softness, texture and color.
The headquarters includes a staff training center and a landing space outside this area where on-site and visiting employees can work, a full-floor reception area, a meeting center, and cafés and communal spaces on every floor. Floor-to-ceiling windows and a wraparound terrace on the top floor offer spectacular views of Toronto’s lakefront.
In addition to the significant real estate cost savings Sun Life will realize from the consolidation, a post-occupancy survey revealed employee satisfaction levels of 98 percent, with employee agility 67 percent higher than the original target. Sun Life is now using it as a template for other office redesign projects worldwide.
LEED Platinum (anticipated)
390,000 sq. ft. / 36,230 sq. m.
CoreNet Global Canada REmmy Award – Workplace Over 50,000 SF