How some prominent B.C. companies are working in the midst of COVID-19

Some major businesses have closed their doors completely while others continue operations.

So far, outdoor retailer MEC has kept its stores open

Some major businesses have closed their doors completely while others continue operations

As the COVID-19 pandemic brings many businesses and other organizations to an abrupt and indefinite halt, some truths about how we work are being uncovered.

One is that no two workplaces are exactly the same. They have similarities, sure, but while I, for instance, get the opportunity to work from home, my firefighter brother has no such luxury.

Businesses throughout the province are facing tough decisions on whether they should shutter operations completely or find alternate ways to keep people working.

We checked in on how a few high-profile B.C. companies are coping with the outbreak.

Electronic Arts

The Burnaby video game developer has cancelled or postponed all live competitions. It has been allowing voluntary work from home for some time, as EA’s offices in Asia gave the company some foresight into what North America is now facing.

Now all non-essential people (such as IT and security) are working from home until April 1 at the earliest.


The Vancouver-based fashion brand is shutting all stores, meaning the closure of more than 95 locations across North America. The decision will hold until further notice.


Unlike Aritzia, the athleisure giant has put a date on its North American and European store closures, saying that they will shut until March 27.

However, the retailer will offer classes and meditations online. It also announced that scheduled staff will be paid for hours they were supposed to work.


It hasn’t been great timing for everyone’s favourite co-op, which opened its new flagship store in Vancouver’s Olympic Village this week. Concerns over the virus meant that two features—a massive bouldering wall at the location and the company’s equipment rental program (available at most stores) aren’t available.

But so far, MEC stores have stayed open. An email asking about the status of employees in the front office wasn’t immediately answered. 

UPDATE: A MEC spokesperson issued the following statement to BCBusiness.

“As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, we are always considering what is best for the health and safety of our staff, our members and the communities that we serve. It is important to MEC to play our part in keeping our communities safe.
We have made the decision to limit hours of operation until further notice. As of Monday, March 16th, our MEC stores will be open from 12 PM to 6 PM every day (12 PM to 5 PM on weekends for stores in Quebec). MEC Service Centre hours are currently Monday to Sunday, 9:00am – 6:00pm (PT).
At our head office, MEC has strongly encouraged employees to work from home and practice social distancing, while also implementing additional cleaning and safety best practices to support and protect our team during this time.”
Here’s a link to MEC’s precautions:


According to a spokesperson, the social media management platform has mandated a global work-from-home policy that began on March 16.

“As COVID-19 continues to evolve, our primary concern is for our employees, their families, and the greater community,” the company said in a statement. “Out of an abundance of caution, beginning March 16, we have implemented a global work from home policy and severely restricted business travel, as per local government and World Health Organization (WHO) directives.”


The Vancouver-based chocolatier recently announced plans to close all 84 of its shops across Canada from March 17 to March 31, when it will “reassess the situation,” according to a release.

Although its call centre will remain open, the company is warning customers that orders may be delayed. It’s also pledging to “ensure the care of our Purdys team, both part-time and full-time.”