Salesforce sign on its headquarters in San Francisco.
Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, California. Image: © Sundry Photography/

Salesforce reopening: ‘We’re not going back to the way it was’

13 Apr 2021

Salesforce has published its roadmap for returning to the workplace and has extended its work-from-home offering until the end of this year.

As vaccine roll-outs continue around the world, some major companies have started to prepare for returning to the workplace. Last month, Microsoft revealed its plans for gradually reopening offices and confirmed that it would be adopting a mostly hybrid working model going forward.

Now, software company Salesforce has published details of its own return-to-work vision. In a blog post on the company’s site, president and chief people officer Brent Hyder said: “We’re not going back to the way it was.”

In May of last year, Salesforce staff were told they could work from home for the rest of 2020, even if offices were to open back up before that point. But as the pandemic continued, the San Francisco-headquartered business announced that employees would be working from home until “at least 31 July 2021”.

News of Salesforce’s permanent shift to more flexible working came a couple of months ago. Hyder announced that most employees would be given the option to work remotely for some of the week after the pandemic.

“An immersive workspace is no longer limited to a desk in our Towers,” he said at the time. “The nine-to-five workday is dead and the employee experience is about more than ping-pong tables and snacks.”

The company’s latest announcement sets out its route to reopening workspaces in the US and beyond.

Returning to the workplace

Salesforce has around 50,000 employees across its global offices. In 2019, it announced plans to significantly expand its Irish workforce with a new ‘Salesforce Tower’ in Dublin, which is still under construction.

The first Salesforce office to reopen in the US will be Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, where the company has its largest presence. This will reopen in May alongside other Californian offices in Palo Alto and Irvine.

However, Salesforce’s work-from-home option is being extended yet again to “at least 31 December 2021”, Hyder said.

Outside of the US, Salesforce has already reopened 22 offices. Yesterday (12 April) saw two in Israel open up and staff have been back working in Sydney offices since last summer. Hyder said that this staggered return has been a valuable learning experience in terms of the “new way of working”.

“Thursday is the new Monday,” he said. “The most popular day for employees to come to the office is Thursday. Employees prefer to start the week from home with only about half of collaboration space being used. By Wednesday and Thursday, that jumps up to 80pc.

“More flexibility leads to more productivity and balance. Employees are 16pc more likely to agree they are more productive at home, and 13pc more likely to agree that their teams are more productive at home than in the office. And they have more balance while they do it — 20pc of employees at home are more likely to integrate wellbeing breaks into their day than employees in the office.”

‘Reopening will not look the same everywhere’

Hyder outlined how his team will reopen global offices with “a science-based staged approach”.

“With a broad global footprint, we’re looking at each location uniquely based on government guidance, input from public health officials and medical experts, insight from our local leadership team, and a Covid risk rating, which is a comprehensive analysis of local case and testing data.

“Reopening will not look the same everywhere, and we’re implementing new strategies to safely give our employees the connection and collaboration they need to be successful.”

To start, fully vaccinated employees in certain US office locations will be able to volunteer to join groups of 100 or fewer people to work on designated floors, following safety protocols and health mandates. There will be on-site Covid testing mandated twice weekly, with designated health officers to assist employees and ensure teams are following safety measures.

‘The office is no longer at the centre of our work day’

Through phased reopening, offices will then gradually go from 20pc to 75pc capacity, depending on local guidelines. “In this stage, we will welcome both vaccinated and non-vaccinated employees and we will continue to follow safety protocols and provide testing where possible,” Hyder explained.

“Today, 17 of our offices globally are open in this stage, most of which are in Asia Pacific.”

The third and final stage will be a full office reopening with up to 100pc capacity, where vaccines continue to be encouraged and testing will be available where possible. Staff can also expect to return to redesigned lobbies, elevators and collaborative spaces with rearranged furniture, new signage, touch-free handles and sensors, plexiglass desk dividers, temperature-screening stations, air purifiers and cleaning products.

Salesforce has also developed a guide to help other companies reopen.

“While our offices will remain an important part of our strategy as we reopen, the office is no longer at the centre of our work day,” Hyder said. “Everyone can finally work where, when and how they’ll make the most impact.”

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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