At Salesforce, we do things a little bit differently. We continuously push the envelope to make our business, and the world, a better place. This applies to every facet of the company, including our Real Estate and Workplace Services Team. For example, our unique approach to office design, which we call our Ohana Design standard, is a powerful expression of who we are and what we care about.
Our New York-based VP of Workplace Services Elaine Schultz has been trying new ideas and redefining space management with the team since her early days at the company. She joined Salesforce in 2012 as Regional Workplace Services Manager overseeing our offices in New York City, Chicago, Herndon, Virginia, and Tampa, along with a team of six employees that supported each. In her current role, Elaine now oversees more than 90 people in 26 locations, something that wasn’t in her plans.
“I never imagined I would be in the position that I am in today. I’ve achieved more here at Salesforce than I did in my 17 years with my previous company,” Elaine shares. Her career is only part of the transformation she’s experienced in the past seven years.
“There’s so much going on here. We’re rethinking what workplace services can be. We have an impact on every person who enters our spaces each day. It’s about much more than desks and chairs. We want our environments to be places that inspire employees. Our spaces have warmth and light, and we put employees — not offices — near the windows. Our approach is a significant change from what I would call the industry standard.”
Curious to learn how you can continuously innovate and grow your career in workplace services? Schultz shares her top tips:
Reimagine everyday experiences
“We open our floors differently,” says Elaine. “For most real estate and workplace services teams, the paint is dry, furniture is assembled, and a pamphlet goes on each desk. Here, we view the unveiling of a new floor as an event. The day kicks off with an orientation so folks are familiar with the space. By the time you hit noon, you’d never know it’s someone’s first day in the office because they’re able to function and get their job done. Employees can swing into action faster.”
Do the research and think creatively
If something isn’t working, don’t immediately change it — gather information first. “We used to have a bulky check-in process with an old laptop. Visitors’ first impressions of us didn’t reflect a visionary tech company,” Schultz commented. “We had conversations with business partners, researched new options, and ultimately implemented a sleek new system across the globe that looks and feels like Salesforce.”
Take on challenges
When Elaine was new to Salesforce, the company’s Real Estate and Workplace Services team was rapidly growing, and there weren’t many established procedures. She’d run into a new scenario that she wasn’t sure how to handle, and in asking around, found no one had an answer yet. If something needed to be developed, she’d volunteer herself to help. “Sometimes it was as simple as finding an answer and telling people about it,” she commented. “Other times, I’d propose a solution. I’d say, ‘There are no clear guidelines around this, but how does this sound?’ If you see something interesting, raise your hand and let people know you have ideas. Speak up.”
Embrace and learn from failure
Pilot new approaches and celebrate them even if they don’t work as planned. Elaine shared an example with us. “We’re always testing new ways to personalize the office experience. Recently, we tried incorporating a self-serve kiosk in the reception area so visitors from other hubs could easily find local attractions. It went unused. Visitors saw it as impersonal — they’d rather have conversations with local employees who can share that same information.”
Elaine doesn’t view this as failure, but an opportunity to learn something new. “It helps you discover yourself when you try new things. You can analyze why something didn’t work and gain a deeper insight about your company culture.”
Be flexible with your career path
“We had a lot of Real Estate Workplace Services Generalists when I first started. Some of those roles still exist, but as we grow, we have a need for more specialty roles,” Schultz shared. One of her team members is returning from maternity leave to a new role — Snack and Barista Manager. “We originally hired her as a Senior Facilities Coordinator. She did a great job and took an interest in the snacks. She started asking questions about the menu, and wanted to learn more. So when we needed this position in our East region, we didn’t have to look outside for new talent. We knew she had the aptitude and desire. That’s typical here. People find a passion within Real Estate and Workplace Services and can work toward it, even if the role doesn’t exist today.”
Salesforce’s Real Estate and Workplace Services team hires people with good ideas. “I don’t have all the answers, but I try to hire in people who are passionate about what they do,” Schultz says. “One of the things I’m proudest of is our diverse team. I get opinions from places I wouldn’t if everyone had the same background as me. We want people to come in and share with us to make us better. To add to the culture, not fit into it.”
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