Health and Healthcare Systems

The 9-to-5 workday is dead, according to Salesforce – so where do we go from here?

The company logo for Salesforce.com is displayed on the Salesforce Tower in New York City, U.S., March 7, 2019.

The new guidelines Salesforce is calling 'Work From Anywhere.' Image: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Avery Hartmans
Tech Reporter, Business Insider
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  • Salesforce announced it would offer three ways of working going forward.
  • The "flex" option will allow employees to come into the office up to three days per week.
  • Other employees will work remotely full time, while a small subset will come in every day.

Salesforce announced that its employees would have the option to work remotely full time, even when it's safe to return to the office.

The new guidelines, which Salesforce is calling "Work From Anywhere," offer employees three options for how they'll work going forward: flex, fully remote, and office-based. Salesforce said the decision to offer new ways of working was based on employee wellness surveys the company had been sending around since the onset of the pandemic.

For employees who work within the "flex" option, they'll report to the office between one and three days each week for tasks that are more challenging to do over video calls, such as team collaboration, customer meetings, and presentations. Salesforce said most of its employees worldwide would have a flex schedule.

Other employees will work fully remote — this option will be reserved for those who don't live near one of the company's offices or work in roles that don't require being in a physical office, Salesforce said.

Salesforce said only a small subset of its 49,000 employees would work in the office four to five days per week.

"An immersive workspace is no longer limited to a desk in our Towers; the 9-to-5 workday is dead; and the employee experience is about more than ping-pong tables and snacks," Brent Hyder, the president and chief people office of Salesforce, wrote in a blog post announcing the change.

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Salesforce expects the new options to help improve equality and diversity at the company — since workers won't be required to report to an office in places like San Francisco and New York, Salesforce can broaden recruiting to new areas.

A change to how employees work will also mean a change to Salesforce's physical offices. Salesforce has 19 offices in North America alone, including the recently completed Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, a 1,070-foot-high skyscraper that cost $1.1 billion to build. Hyder wrote that going forward, the offices would be redesigned as "community hubs" with collaboration and breakout spaces instead of rows of desks.

Hyder didn't say when employees could expect to return to the office but added that "managing the spread of COVID-19 carefully will remain critical for most of the year." The company will also put rules into place like temperature screenings before entering the building, face coverings, deep cleaning, manual contact tracing, and at-home wellness declarations.

Salesforce initially told employees they could work from home until August. But like many other tech companies, its plans seem to have shifted in the intervening months. Last year, as the company began slowly reopening its 160 offices worldwide, it created a more "sterile" and "hospital-like" environment, removing light-hearted touches like trinkets on desks and "huge jars of gummy bears everywhere," CEO Marc Benioff told The New York Times in June.

And early on in the pandemic, Salesforce offered a 21-page handbook available to anyone who wanted it about how to safely reopen office spaces. The plan included rethinking some of the materials inside the office, including adding glass dividers and mandating social distancing, even in elevators.

Now, with the vaccine slowly being distributed in the US and across the globe, Salesforce appears to be thinking about life after the virus: In a rendering of how the company envisions a more community-minded office, there are no dividers or social-distancing signs, people stand to chat in the halls, and employees sit around a table to work — unmasked.

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