In a landmark announcement yesterday, cloud computing giant Salesforce declared the “9-to-5 work day is dead” and introduced a new three-part model giving their employees a choice over how and when they return to the office. Salesforce employs around 50,000 people globally and, while the plans suggest most of these workers will return to the workplace in some capacity in the future, there are also different strategies and ambitious approaches regarding these latest models. The Tuesday announcement was made in a blog post entitled ‘Creating a Best Workplace from Anywhere, for Everyone,’ and outlines the three different work arrangement categories as flex, fully remote, and office-based:
- Flex - where the majority of Salesforce’s global employees will be “once it’s safe to return to the office,” in which they will work 1-3 days a week in the office to foster collaboration, meetings with customers and presentations.
- Fully Remote - for employees who either live far from an office or have no reason to come to the office.
- Office-based - 4-5 days a week if the employees’ job requires it, which Salesforce says will apply to the “smallest population” of their workforce.
“The 9-5 is Dead”
Salesforce’s announcement forms a larger part of a new era in how companies think of the workplace and company culture. The physical office space, in which colleagues commute into the city everyday and stay there for set hours is no longer the reality for vast swathes of the workforce. This reality has only been made starker by the COVID-19 pandemic, in which large numbers of people became remote workers overnight, accelerating existing trends around flexibility, employee experience, virtual work, technological and digital advances and reconsiderations of the workplace.
Other tech giants such as Facebook and Microsoft have taken similar steps and introduced plans to allow employees more flexibility and freedom over the shape of their working days in the future.
“As we enter a new year, we must continue to go forward with agility, creativity and a beginner’s mind - and that includes how we cultivate our culture. 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, Salesforce’s chief people officer wrote. Hyder added that in the current “always-on, always-connected world” it didn’t make sense “to expect employees to work an eight-hour shift and do their jobs successfully.”
Hyder also highlighted how the realities of life - “from picking up kids to caring for sick family members” - didn’t always fit with being in-person, in the office everyday, and that this change would “remove hurdles.”
However, Hyder also recognised the importance of maintaining some form of in-person interaction as an integral part of building company culture. “we’ve learned that 80% of our employees are hungry for the connection, camaraderie and innovation that come from gathering in-person,” he went on to say in the blogpost.
Another key factor Salesforce cited in implementing permanent work-from-home is the ability to source talent from outside the usual urban hotspots and find people in alternative geographies and communities. These communities might otherwise have been underrepresented, thus making work-from-home and remote work a key driver and enabler of more equality and inclusion.
“At the same time, we acknowledge that as the nature of our workforce changes, we will have to be even more intentional about our culture and cultivating an environment of inclusion, belonging, and equality,” Salesforce added.
Rethinking Real Estate
In San Francisco, Salesforce HQ currently occupies the city’s tallest building. However, looking to the future, Salesforce reportedly will reimagine these enormous office spaces as “community hubs to accommodate a more hybrid workstyle,” bringing in “more collaboration and breakout spaces” to foster all-important connections while doing away with the “sea of desks” traditionally associated with corporate headquarters and office design. Salesforce calls this turning point an “opportunity to create the office of the future” while maintaining the design standards that communicate their unique culture.
It remains to be seen how quickly these new Work From Anywhere models will be implemented and put into full effect. However, what seems certain is that Salesforce is moving ahead with plans that place their employees and their best interests front and centre.
As the blogpost by Hyder outlines: “Our employees are the architects of this strategy, and flexibility will be key going forward. It’s our responsibility as employers to empower our people to get the job done during the schedule that works best for them and their teams, and provide flexible options to help make them even more productive.”