By Jonathan Hall, General Manager and Director, Canada Life International

The impact of the global pandemic has been profound. In just a few short weeks both our working and personal lives have been turned upside down, and we have no clear idea when we will return to what we once regarded as ‘normal’.

Like other businesses CLI has had to adapt very quickly to a rapidly changing situation, keeping staff safe as our number one priority, while also balancing the need to provide a service to our distributors and customers. We took the view that we didn’t want to compromise or see a drop in the service we provide and have established our call centre virtually, by moving all staff to work from home, and service standards have been maintained.

The distributors who introduce business to us are having to adapt to challenging circumstances and we’ve responded by being creative and flexible to meet these demands. The use of electronic signatures was quickly adopted and we are working through how that might be retained post lockdown. We are also looking at writable PDFs for our most common forms that advisers use.

The response from our staff has been incredible. My colleagues are going above and beyond, in what can often be very difficult personal circumstances, balancing the need to look after their families while continuing to do their jobs to their best ability. We’ve supported these efforts through frequent communications and business updates on an evolving situation, and have just launched WeCare, our virtual support service which includes an extensive range of health, mental health and wellbeing support.

Looking ahead to a time when we have a significant easing of lockdown, the health and safety of our people is clearly our priority, so any plans to re-open offices will be gradual and measured.

Disruption can create opportunity and none more so than with our office space, which was full to capacity. As a growing business we have the challenge of recruiting the new colleagues with the right skills and attitude, and also finding desk space to accommodate them. With the rapid move to remote working, those capacity issues are not so pressing. We’ve also been able to continue recruiting through this disruption because of the agile technology and support to work from home.

Although none of us can make the call right now on what a ‘new normal’ business environment will be, I hope that when we emerge from this we don’t lose our sense of what is important to us both in our professional and personal lives.