AIMCo CEO condemns removal of remote work option

Calgary –

The CEO of one of Canada’s largest institutional investors did not speak on Wednesday when he spoke about the recent push by some company leaders to order employees to return to the office full-time.

“I am amazed, frankly, at how many tone-deaf white CEOs say, ‘You should go back to the office,'” said Evan Sydal, president of Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) and former CEO of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. They are asking for a fight with their employees.”

“I think there has been a relatively permanent shift.”

Sydal made the remarks Wednesday during an interview in Calgary, where he was attending the grand opening of AIMCo’s new office in that city.

AIMCo — which is responsible for pension, endowment and government fund investments in Alberta, with $163.8 billion in assets under management as of the end of last year — has nearly 600 employees spread across offices in Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, London, UK, and Luxembourg.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were lifted, these employees have been able to decide within their individual teams how often they want to come to the physical office — the company suggested two days a week would be the “starting place” for that conversation, but there are no hard rules in this sense.

“Our philosophy at AIMCo is that we are all adults. And it doesn’t matter where you do this work. There are some traditional beliefs about culture, where people say, ‘You can only preserve culture if people are in the office full time,'” Sydal said. with it.”

For workers and employers in Canada, the pandemic has been a years-long experiment with flexible remote working.

Last September, bosses and workers pitted against each other with a renewed push by some companies to bring employees back to office buildings.

Instead of the voluntary return-to-office guidelines that were a feature of earlier points in the pandemic, many employers now mandate office attendance through company policies.

These policies do not make sense at a time when companies are still struggling with persistent labor shortages, high turnover rates and the much-talked-out “quiet take off” phenomenon, Sydal said.

“By the way, our turnover – higher than it was because of COVID – but we are outperforming our peers because we have a different employee offer. And so they stay,” he said.

“We think it has actually made us a preferred employer, and it has enabled us to hire some wonderful people that we would not otherwise have been able to hire.”

Sydal said he is well aware that different demographics have different needs and preferences about where they do their work. For example, immigrant and culturally diverse populations are more likely to make elderly family members age in their own homes, while younger families face special challenges related to child care.

“Large family units, or if you have elderly parents, or young children… It’s a different kind of lifestyle, and now we can welcome these people and expand our talent pool,” he said.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on September 21, 2022.

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