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Inside Sun Life Financial’s new high-tech office on the water

By Jean Grant| Photography by Gabby Frank
Inside Sun Life Financial's new high-tech office on the water

What: Sun Life Financial’s new Toronto headquarters Where: A skyscraper Lakeshore and York How big: 17 storeys of the 800,000-square-foot building for approximately 2,000 employees

When they started designing their new office several years ago, Sun Life had plenty of goals: they wanted agile workstations, an open environment and—most importantly of all—a space that screamed to clients, “We’ve totally embraced the digital age!" Last fall, they moved their Toronto staff from the old King and University office building to the upper half of a brand-new tower at the southernmost tip of York Street. Here, the lakefront views are unobstructed, the cubicles less boxy, the lounges more luxurious—and the technology is practically space-age.

The executive team was hugely involved in the design process, and collected ideas and recommendations from all levels of staff. They found that employees cared about having a flexible work spaces, so they added sit/stand desks and over 400 collaborative meeting places. They also found employees wanted to work in a cutting-edge environment, so they added high-tech touches wherever they could. As soon as guests or clients arrive, they’re greeted by an interactive digital coffee table, which provides information about the work Sun Life is doing. There are also LED light displays that follow passing staff, and a motion-censored “tablet wall” complete with games like human Tetris.

On the main floor, the insurance company has marked their territory with a mammoth marble wall:

Inside Sun Life Financial's new high-tech office on the water

 

The top floor is mostly used for welcoming clients. Instead of coffee table books, the coffee table itself is a digital book that displays info on the company history, projects and volunteer work. The company worked with Réalisations Montréal on all their digital installations:

Inside Sun Life Financial's new high-tech office on the water

 

There’s a fancy lounge up here, too:

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Inside Sun Life Financial's new high-tech office on the water

 

The view is incredible, and since they’re basically on the water, it’ll (hopefully) never be blocked. The 35th floor has a wraparound terrace:

Inside Sun Life Financial's new high-tech office on the water

 

This 45-foot-long digital mural displays scenes from cities around the world in which Sun Life operates:

Inside Sun Life Financial's new high-tech office on the water

 

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The lobby also displays artifacts from the company’s technological history behind glass, like this dictaphone used for transcribing in the 1920s:

Inside Sun Life Financial's new high-tech office on the water

 

There’s also an automatic selfie camera, where staff can take pictures that show up on a collage wall. They call them “we-fies” because only photos of two or more people are permitted:

Inside Sun Life Financial's new high-tech office on the water

 

After a photo is snapped, it immediately appears inside a large block letters that spell out rotating staff qualities:

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Inside Sun Life Financial's new high-tech office on the water

 

There are cafés and communal spaces on every floor. This one happens to come equipped with what the company calls their “tablet wall”. By standing on various patches on the floor (Play, Connect, Inspire and Explore), staff can access things like sports highlights, the company’s community calendar or the story of One York, with the wave of a hand:

Inside Sun Life Financial's new high-tech office on the water

 

They can also play games like Tetris and Twist Fit:

Inside Sun Life Financial's new high-tech office on the water

 

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Here’s the rest of the lounge:

Inside Sun Life Financial's new high-tech office on the water

 

And one of the cafés:

Inside Sun Life Financial's new high-tech office on the water

 

There’s also a digital timeline of the company’s history, intertwined with cultural events and key figures, that dates back to 1865:

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Inside Sun Life Financial's new high-tech office on the water

 

These flat-screens, which display inspirational outdoor images, turn on and rotate when people walk under them:

Inside Sun Life Financial's new high-tech office on the water

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