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Future of Work

Why Salesforce Is Bringing People Back Together In-Person, Now

Salesforce Employees and Brent Hyder

From reopening to reconnecting — the next phase of our Success From Anywhere strategy

For the last 20 months, we’ve worked remotely — and our company has thrived. We’ve hired more than 30,000 people remotely. We’ve had five consecutive quarters of growth. We’ve logged more code and met with more customers than ever before. And our employees have appreciated the flexibility this new way of working offers them.

Our Success From Anywhere approach has made us more productive than ever. And yet, something is missing.

That intangible magic that comes from being with people. Sure, we’ve moved our brainstorms, offsites, happy hours and team building activities onto Zoom, but it’s not quite the same as being in-person. Our employees agree — 77% say they want to get together with their team in-person by the end of the year.

The reality is the pandemic is not going away; it will be with us for some time. Given that, the question before us is: How do we combine the best of the Success From Anywhere world with the joy and spontaneity of in-person connection — not next year, but now? Here’s how we’re tackling it.

Reconnecting can’t wait for reopening:

There’s been too much focus on return-to-office dates. With COVID case rates varying dramatically around the globe, a top-down, one-size-fits-all directive doesn’t work. Starting now, we are encouraging teams to gather in-person, as long as it’s safe and in alignment with local laws. We’ve proven that we can come together safely in-person through Dreamforce and our 65+ open offices around the globe. And I’ve seen first-hand how these gatherings can fundamentally improve team dynamics after months of not seeing each other. That’s why we’re encouraging all managers to bring their teams together — for a strategy session, workshop, or holiday party — by the end of the year.

Flex work is a team sport:

In April, we introduced Success From Anywhere, providing employees with three new ways of working: Office-Flexible, Home-Based, and Office-Based. Now, we’re redefining how our teams work together with Flex Team Agreements. We’re empowering teams to decide how, when, and where they work — including how many days a week they come into the office and what kind of work they’ll continue to do at home. Teams can also decide how they communicate and what behaviors are most important to them. For instance, my team — Employee Success — has agreed to “No Meeting Fridays” and monthly Wellbeing days. We’ll also prioritize meeting in-person twice a year, as well as volunteer days and end-of-quarter celebrations to keep teams feeling connected.

It’s all about experimentation. We recently had our first “Async Week” where employees cancelled routine meetings to create space for more deep, focused work. Over 20,000 employees participated and 80% liked it. Moreover, 81% would like to repeat it quarterly. And we’re encouraging all employees to embrace flex behaviors like Focus Time and Setting Boundaries, to increase productivity and prioritize their wellbeing.

The office becomes an experience:

There is still a very important need and purpose for physical space like our Towers — to bring people together in our Success From Anywhere world. Our trusted global campus will always be a creative, sustainable, and safe environment. Every time someone comes into our space, our goal is that it is always a world-class experience. Yet, we know that the way our employees use the office will continue to evolve as we come back. And with that, we are planning for flexibility.

Just 30% of our desks are being used on average, which frees us up to increase our social space from 40% to 60% to meet the new needs of our employees. We’re experimenting with new flex spaces, adding more booths, communal tables, and focus pods to create connection and innovation. We’ll continue to observe behaviors, listen to our employees, and try innovative approaches like leveraging sensor data to inform decisions as we go. We’ve even launched “on-sites in a box” to provide leaders with tips, tricks, and resources to bring people together again safely, successfully, and easily.

Digital-first demands a digital HQ:

With the addition of Slack, we’ve created a digital HQ that is completely transforming the way we work. It’s where we connect, share information, get our work done and heck, hopefully have some fun. 76% of workers believe that how a company collaborates is a direct reflection of their culture and with Slack, we’ve measurably changed our culture for the better. This year, we’ve seen:

  • Individual and team productivity increased by 16% and 13%, respectively
  • The number of emails we sent decreased 46% as our teams turn to more collaborative, real-time communication
  • Our employees sent 58.7 million Slack messages and conducted 489,000 Slack Huddles — impromptu voice chats — in the last 30 days alone

The fact that the pandemic will continue to be part of our workplace is not exactly welcome news, but it gives us even more license to embrace a Success From Anywhere world — right now. The road to the future of work will not be a straight line and we will continue to practice and learn together. But by prioritizing connection and empowering employees to redefine the workplace on their own terms, we’re on the right path.

Learn more about Success From Anywhere and how we’re helping employees succeed together in the digital-first world.

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