4 Awesome Workplace Design Examples From Canada

by Adrian Miller on May 8, 2019

Your workplace design is about so much more than aesthetics. It sets the tone for your company culture, offers a first impression for clients and prospective employees and can even support (or hinder) your company’s goals.

To come up with a winning design, you need to look beyond your own four walls—maybe even beyond your own country.

Here are four exceptional workplace design examples from Canada.

TD Bank Group

In 2016, TD Bank Group partnered with an American architecture-engineering firm to renovate its Toronto headquarters. TD tasked the firm with merging the financial services company’s corporate design guidelines with the International WELL Building Standard to create a workplace focused on promoting employee health and wellness.

One of the primary goals was enhancing access to natural light in the 25,000 square-foot office space. Large exterior windows ensure maximum daylight exposure:


(Source: HOK)

And the use of glass walls helps light permeate throughout the space:

(Source: Glassdoor.com)

The HOK team also helped TD incorporate lighting systems that support healthy circadian rhythms. This commitment to employee health is what enabled the project to become the first to be globally certified under v1 of WELL.

Raymond James Ltd.

When financial advisory firm Raymond James Ltd. outgrew its downtown Waterloo office, the company decided its new office should not only be bigger but more impressive, too. Executives wanted to create a workplace that was innovative enough to appeal to younger clients, but not so over-the-top that their older clients were put off.

With less than 4,000 square feet of space to work with, Raymond James Ltd.’s design partner, Mayhew Inc., had to be creative and efficient. The firm took advantage of a centralized enclosed space and made it the fulcrum around which they based their decisions. The “blue box” acted as a natural divider between teams and a physical landmark to assist in navigating the office.

(Source: Mayhew Inc.)

Since many client conversations involve sensitive financial information, the design firm couldn’t eliminate private offices entirely. But they did create informal workspaces and meeting areas to encourage collaboration:

(Source: Mayhew Inc.)

(Source: Mayhew Inc.)

In the end, the design firm achieved a balance between traditional office elements and a more modern open office.

Sun Life Financial

Two years ago, Sun Life Financial consolidated more than 2,000 employees from its two downtown Toronto offices into a single workplace in the city’s financial district. The move represented a unique opportunity for the company to involve employees in the workplace design process from the beginning.

Representatives from the corporate real estate (CRE), HR and IT departments at Sun Life worked with the team at the design firm to gather input from employees at all levels of the organization. The project team learned employees wanted a flexible space that could accommodate and support how and where they wanted to work.

The result was an open workplace with a variety of spaces for both solo work and collaboration. Every meeting space has integrated AV equipment with plug-and-play capabilities.

(Source: HOK)

And all enclosed spaces—even private offices and meeting rooms—have glass walls to promote a feeling of transparency.

(Source: HOK)

But what sets Sun Life’s offices apart is the “tablet wall,” which gives employees instant access to the company’s calendar and local sports news, as well as local history and even games:

(Source: HOK)


OMERS is the administrator of one of Canada’s largest defined benefit pension plans and handles the retirement benefits of all local government employees in Ontario. Like Sun Life Financial, the executive team at OMERS decided to combine multiple offices into a single location. But what made OMERS’ consolidation tricky is the fact that they were bringing together five separate business units — each with its own unique services, processes and cultures — into one building for the first time in company history.

To encourage cross-department communication, OMERS’ design partner reduced the number of private offices and instituted multiple centralized collaboration areas:

(Source: Figure)

(Source: Figure)

To minimize office noise without adding private offices, the design team used acoustic furniture and sound masking. These elements allow employees to benefit from the flexibility of a non-traditional office while still having spaces to go for quiet, focused work — for example, the 14th floor library shown below:

(Source: Figure)

By concentrating on creating spaces that enable focus and collaboration, OMERS’ design partner, Figure, was able to integrate individual business units into a single, collective, high-performance culture.

These examples of great workplace design in Canada reflect larger workplace trends, including the move toward a more agile work environment.

That means moving away from assigned seats and private offices in favor of more flexible arrangements. To successfully implement these new ways of working, your organization needs more than a great office design. You also need the right policies and the right technology.

How agile is your workplace—and what can you do to set it up for future success? Take our two-minute assessment to find out!


Adrian Miller

Adrian brings 20 years of experience in enterprise software sales in the EAM, IWMS & BI spaces. The experience he has gained from previous roles encompasses all that the iOFFICE products have to offer Canadian business, but now in one cohesive solution. He is a strong believer that Canadians like to partner with Canadians and his main drivers are; client satisfaction, client advocacy and making sure his clients receive value from the solutions he represents. He has built a successful career based on this philosophy and looks forward to bringing his knowledge and the value of the iOFFICE suite to the Canadian marketplace.

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