Once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, Salesforce will offer its employees three options when it comes to flexible and remote work. Will other tech companies follow its example?
In a lengthy corporate blog posting, Salesforce explained how its employees will have a choice: flexible schedules (i.e., in the office 1-3 days per week), full-time remote, or fully office-based. “Employee feedback has guided our re-opening strategy and how we’ll work going forward,” the posting added. “We learned that nearly half of our employees want to come in only a few times per month, but also that 80 percent of employees want to maintain a connection to a physical space.”
Salesforce is positioning these new scheduling options as a way to boost equality in tech. “Our talent strategy is no longer bound by barriers like location, so we can broaden our search beyond traditional city centers and welcome untapped talent from new communities and geographies,” the posting added. “And creating more flexible schedules removes hurdles that may make it more difficult to be in the office daily—from picking up kids to caring for sick family members.”
Those who head back to the company’s offices will find massive redesigns underway, with Salesforce pledging to replace “a sea of desks” with more collaboration and “breakout spaces.” Until COVID-19 is successfully repressed, entry to the physical offices will also depend on temperature screenings and “home wellness attestations.”
In offering its employees a choice of flexible and remote work, Salesforce is following in the footsteps of other tech giants in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google, that have announced similar policies over the past several months. Salesforce’s approach is different in some crucial respects, particularly in how it gives employees a set of options rather than binding them to one policy.
For technologists at Salesforce, the big question is probably whether their company will emulate Facebook and cut the pay of any remote worker who moves to a place with a lower cost of living. Although Salesforce is touting how these new work options will liberate employees from the “grind” of a 9-to-5, in-office job, managers may also feel added pressure to manage widely dispersed teams across multiple time-zones.
As for San Francisco and Silicon Valley, the tech giants’ embrace of remote and flexible work could have a seismic effect on everything from real-estate prices to whether the region can maintain its status as the nation’s preeminent tech hub. If technologists can live anywhere they want, will they choose to remain in the Bay Area? The answer to that question could radically change the tech industry over the next few years.