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Salesforce to reduce office footprint permanently

Business software provider Salesforce recently announced that most of its employees will work remotely part or full-time after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, The Wall Street Journal reports. The telework policy is Saleforce’s effort to decrease its real estate footprint. The company currently has 54,000 employees worldwide.

According to Salesforce Chief People Officer Brent Hyder, the company’s changes would include reworking office layouts to enhance collaboration space instead of having a “sea of desks.” Salesforce employees will do most of their independent work remotely, but they’ll find café-style seating, open-air conference areas and private nooks when they do work in the office. Clean desks and social distancing will be high priorities in the new Salesforce office spaces.

“We’re not going back to the way things were,” Hyder said in an interview. “I don’t believe that we’ll keep every space in every city that we’re in, including San Francisco.”

Salesforce currently plans for more than 65% of its employees to work in the office just one to three days a week going forward—a 40% increase prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some employees will work remotely full-time, however. Salesforce Tower is the tallest building in San Francisco and company has buildings with similar names in New York, Chicago and Indianapolis, but it hasn’t said how much its real estate footprint will decrease after it implements these changes.

Tech companies’ approach to handling remote work versus returning to the office has varied. Facebook announced it would be moving to a larger remote work force last May; meanwhile Twitter gave all of its employees to option to telework. Amazon remains committed to office-based work and even added office space in six U.S. cities to accommodate its expanding workforce. Other companies like Oracle and Hewlett Packard are shifting their headquarters from California to Texas.

Looking to the Future

“On the other side of the pandemic I do think we’re going to see more innovation in more parts of the country, and I think that’s healthy,” Salesforce Chief Operating Officer Bret Taylor, told The Wall Street Journal. “But it in no way diminishes my excitement for the Bay Area.”

Salesforce’s move to more of a remote workforce allows it to do more with less space, according to Hyder. The company has yet to adjust salaries of employees who moved to less expensive areas during the COVID-19 pandemic, but is still looking at its compensation strategy.

“My suspicion is the market is going to forever be changed in where people are located,” Hyder said. “A great engineer is still going to cost me a good amount of money whether they’re located in Louisiana or San Francisco.”

The company’s decision not to go 100% remote appears to be a good one. An internal survey revealed that 80% of Salesforce employees would like to keep a connection to a physical office, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“We will still have people that need workspaces because of their hardware or their infrastructure needs, the sensitivity of their work,” Hyder said. “And from time to time I’d like to get out of my house.”

Joe Dyton can be reached at joed@fifthgenmedia.com.

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