The phrase "at work" has, for many of us, always meant a physical space — the office. But now companies, communities, schools, and organizations of all kinds are reconciling how to adjust to working from home.

This immediate shift at this scale poses an interesting question — how do we make it seamless for our employees to work from anywhere when everyone is everywhere? Any executive I speak to, no matter what corner of the executive office they’re in, from CEO to CIO, CMO to CTO, CRO to CPO, is asking themselves the question — what do I do right now?

There's no silver bullet and no simple answer. But I want to share how we at Salesforce are:

  • Helping keep our employees safe and engaged

  • Automating new processes and developing new policies

  • Continuing to innovate and learn new ways to embrace digital ways of working

I hope this will inspire other organizations to find new ways to not only reimagine how to work, but put in place tools and practices that keep everyone working together, wherever they might be.

 

Create open, transparent communication channels

At Salesforce, we use Chatter, our internal social networking tool, to share news and information. In times like these, Chatter is even more important as it’s a single hub for our executives and security teams to share updates. It also enables our employees to ask questions and see public responses.

While we have an All Salesforce group to share the most important information pertinent to every one of our 50,000 plus workforce, we’ve also created a Coronavirus Updates group for employees to ask questions. Each office location has its own Chatter group to share information locally. We avoid siloed information when we share questions on Chatter.

Our communication channels go beyond Chatter. We use digital signage on our login page to share critical announcements. We have a Quip document updated daily with the latest guidelines and resources that is our single source of truth. And, our leadership sends a daily email update with the latest developments, sharing the most pressing questions from Chatter. This transparent communication is crucial when everyone is searching for up-to-date information.

 

Digitize processes to make "work from anywhere" easier

If our records and documents were on paper right now, the move to working remotely would have been much harder. We're a tech company, so we don't have many paper-based processes to begin with. But we've moved most of our processes that once required tracking information in spreadsheets or sending emails into apps built on our platform. We've built apps that digitize things like travel approvals, marketing content, and org charts. Instead of emailing the latest version of a spreadsheet, everyone can access the information they need. And since these processes were always digitized and built on Salesforce, the transition to remote working was more seamless.

 

Use tools that make collaboration seamless

I’ll be the first to admit, working remotely makes collaboration hard. We take for granted “water cooler” conversations that turn into valuable insights that help us get work done. Besides encouraging video hangouts for both formal meetings and informal “virtual coffee breaks,” it’s helpful to have collaborative, social tools to work on documents. Quip lets us work collaboratively and quickly by bringing social tagging and chat into documents, letting everyone work together, from anywhere.

For example, one employee realized that if she couldn't travel to a customer, she had to figure out how to give a whiteboarding session—without a whiteboard. So she asked colleagues to contribute their suggestions to a Quip document. In a matter of hours, people swarmed the Quip document to add their input. Now every employee across Salesforce can see vetted tools and how to use them effectively during virtual meetings. Right now, anyone can get Quip for free to make virtual collaboration easier.

We’re also using Trailhead to share tips for collaborating remotely and staying mindful during stressful times. Check out this Trailmix for resources like tips on mindful living and telecommuting that have helped our team.

 

Make it easy to find information fast

Over the past few weeks, we’ve reduced travel, implemented new work from home policies, and encouraged employees to rethink personal travel plans. This results in many questions for our IT, HR, and facilities teams. It’s important to make it easy for our employees to find the information they need and submit help tickets for more assistance.

Concierge is our self-service help desk tool that uses a search interface to access knowledge-base articles and point employees to relevant information based on their role and location. Our employees get full transparency into the status of their requests, as well as the ability to interact with tech support via Live Chat. When we take the friction out of getting questions answered, our employees can spend less time searching for help and get peace of mind, faster.

 

Taking care of employees whose jobs can’t be remote

Like many of your businesses, not all our employees have jobs that can be remote. That’s why we’re continuing to pay our contingent workforce while we close our offices. We’re also aware that with many schools closed, even those employees who could work from home need assistance. That's why we're working with regional partners and encouraging manager flexibility to ease the challenges caused by childcare needs for those affected. These steps might not be possible for every business to take. But I’m proud of our leadership for taking these actions and caring for our Ohana and the world in whatever ways we can.

It's always been important that we offer tools and resources to keep employees productive and engaged at work. But now more than ever it’s our responsibility as leaders to take the friction out of work so employees can focus on what matters. I hope these ideas will help you and your organizations find ways to make navigating this challenging time a little easier.

Join us online to learn more about what we’re doing to protect our employees, customers, and communities.