Salesforce CEO says back-to-office mandates won’t work

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff doubled down on his company’s stance on working from home and flexible working, that big pandemic debate.

Following the widespread remote work imposed by global lockdowns related to COVID-19, opinion is divided between those who welcome the new normal of working where you love and those who see the numbers coming through the office door as an indicator of productivity .

Among those in the latter camp are Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon – who has taken several opportunities to insist that his staff return to the office full-time – and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has insisted that the The temptation of coffee and cheese posed a serious threat to the country’s post-Brexit economic success.

Salesforce is no stranger to the debate, having canceled the lease of an unbuilt 325,000 square foot (30,193 m²) tower. Last year, Brent Hyder, president and chief human resources officer of Salesforce, said “employee experience goes beyond ping-pong tables and snacks” when announcing the end of the assumption that most employees would work from the desk and introducing a flexible work plan.

This week, CEO Marc Benioff went further, saying a forced return to the old normal will not succeed.

Speaking at a corporate conference in New York, he said: “Office mandates will never work,” according to Yahoo Finance.

At least from a computing perspective, there may be a good reason for his thinking. Research from Gartner analysts found that organizations could be missing the boat if they don’t embrace flexible working and working from home, at least among the in-demand IT workforce.

Gartner found that 65% of IT employees say their ability to work flexibly will impact their decision to stay or leave. For Europeans, work-life balance trumps pay in decision-making for IT professionals. Globally, it now equals compensation for the first time in a decade, Gartner found.

But not everyone agrees with giving employees more choice in where the laptop is placed. Google may impose pay cuts on employees who avoid a return to the same office and instead choose to work from home permanently after the pandemic. The search and cloud giant created Work Location Tool in June to calculate the potential salary implications of full-time remote work. ®

Maria D. Ervin