As lockdowns begin to ease across the globe and businesses start to reopen, many have questions around how to reopen safely. But there is also the question of exactly what sort of a world businesses are reopening to. As part of last month’s pan-EMEA Salesforce Live event, we spoke with two Salesforce customers about the ‘new normal’.

You can watch these conversations, with Zoe Morris (President, Frank Recruitment Group) and Bruno Vanhaelst (Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Sodexo), here.

For a summary of some of the main points covered in each conversation, read on.


How Frank Recruitment Group is adapting to the changing talent market

As President of Frank Recruitment Group (FRG), Zoe Morris has perhaps more insight than most into how businesses are returning to work. And specifically, how they’re approaching hiring talent in a world where face-to-face recruitment is starting to look less necessary. “We were a very mobile organisation before,” said Zoe. “Our staff would go out and meet customers and candidates; our Learning & Development team would train staff in person. Then COVID happened — and pretty much overnight we became remote.”

This necessitated a transformation in how FRG worked. Zoe and the FRG Board quickly saw that this transformation would need to be handled decisively — but they also didn’t want to make any knee-jerk decisions that wouldn’t work for employees or customers. FRG has opened up a dialogue with its employees: CEO calls became weekly, instead of monthly, and employees can book 15 minute slots to chat with any member of the Board about a topic of their choosing. There has also been a push to promote employee Wellness.

“I think employee engagement is so important,” said Zoe, “it’s probably what’s kept us really going as a business and kept our vision and mission alive during this period.”


FRG's approach to reopening

FRG’s approach to reopening has been similarly sensitive and considerate of its employees’ feelings. After all, there are other factors beyond regulations and laws to consider — such as employees who have to care for children and employees living with people who might be particularly vulnerable to the virus.

In fact, since many FRG employees have reported enjoying working from home, finding it to be more productive, their feelings about returning may be ambiguous — regardless of safety considerations. And while FRG is allowing its employees to work remotely for the rest of the year if they choose to, Zoe thinks that attitudes to remote working have been permanently altered.

“Historically, we had these preconceptions, that we could only train our employees if we were face-to-face, we could only manage them if they were physically in the office…” said Zoe. “All that has just been blown out of the water over the last four or five months.” With the support of Salesforce technology, FRG has been able to continue operating and growing with surprisingly little disruption.

“Salesforce has been invaluable for us in terms of keeping us in contact with our customers and candidates,” says Zoe. “It’s also meant that we can easily manage our workforce remotely — the data is all there at the touch of a button.” It’s worked to such a great extent that Zoe thinks the future work week at FRG may well be a ‘hybrid’ of remote work and office work.

“Our customers were bound by geographical restrictions and now have had this talent pool opened up to them,” said Zoe. “What’s more, for the last four or five months, our customers haven’t met a single candidate they’ve recruited. Going forward I think recruitment is going to happen much faster.”

With cloud-based technology essential to remote working, both FRG and its cloud-technology customers have cause for optimism. Zoe said: “We’ve seen cloud transformation hugely accelerating during this period. There’s more demand than ever for cloud professionals.” Whatever the uncertainties around the ‘new normal’ businesses are now discovering, some of the certainties are looking increasingly promising.


How SODEXO has pivoted its services to help other businesses reopen safely

Headquarted in France, Sodexo is a global leader in services that improve quality of life with 470K employees and a presence in 67 countries. So it’s also one of the world’s largest company. For Bruno Vanhaelst, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer at Sodexo, the pandemic has presented appropriately big challenges, as the company has scrambled to protect its employees and reposition its services for radically changed market conditions.

Speaking to Maria Armishaw, Director of Product Marketing at Salesforce, Bruno said: “It’s been quite an adventure!”

Sodexo has been fully mobilised since day one, alongside its employees, clients and consumers, to face COVID-19. It began back in January (Sodexo has a presence in Wuhan) and on the employee side as it’s Sodexo utmost priority to ensure that they would be working in safe conditions, it’s also involved redeploying people to other areas of the business, where demand was critical, as well as creating connections with other industries such as retail and setting up a solidarity fund for those employees most impacted, the most vulnerable of our employees who lost their jobs

On the client side, it’s been less a case of preservation than transformation, as Bruno explained: “When we looked at the needs of our clients, many of them needed our services. But that message (our ‘old’ message) wasn’t resonating in the unprecedented context they were facing,” said Bruno.

“So, we reset our positioning around their pain points, and their journey of preparing to reopen.”

This makes sense and it’s already proving success. As Bruno observed: “Many people are a bit lost in this new world and are searching for solutions.” Armed with its ‘5 steps to Reopening’ model (Preparing, Protecting, Enabling, Supporting and Optimizing), Sodexo has been able to engage proactively with clients and prospects — and provide them with the solutions they’re looking for.

And, as Bruno explained, this message is being relayed with the help of Salesforce.

“Six months prior to the pandemic, we set up our Marketing and Sales Distribution Centres, leveraging Sales Cloud and marketing automation via Pardot to engage clients and prospects early in their buying journey,” said Bruno.

“Now, of course, virtual selling capability is absolutely strategic — and Salesforce technology is essential to us in this new world.”


Return to your workplace

If your business or community needs help reopening and recovering safely, you should explore to learn how you can monitor your employees’ readiness to return to the office, coordinate facilities, and employee shift scheduling and make data-driven decisions fast. 

Or catch-up on all the sessions from Salesforce Live: EMEA to hear more stories from companies like yours.