Another Big Company Plans for Remote Work Beyond the Pandemic

Salesforce's company headquarters in San Francisco.

Salesforce's company headquarters in San Francisco. Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Salesforce, one of San Francisco's top employers, says it expects the majority of its workers will be going into the office fewer than five days a week.

Software company Salesforce said Tuesday that most of its employees would only be expected to report to offices one to three days each week, while working remotely the rest of the time.

Smaller groups of employees will work remotely full-time or, for those with jobs that require it, be based in offices four to five days each week. The company has a total of about 50,000 employees. Its headquarters is the tallest office building in San Francisco and the city's latest financial report lists the company as one of its top private sector employers in recent years with at least 8,000 workers.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many employers to adopt remote work arrangements for office workers over the past year. How many people continue to work remotely after the virus wanes has significant implications for city economies and real estate markets.

Over the past year, a number of large companies—tech giants Facebook and Twitter, and outdoor retailer REI, among them—have made clear that they will lean toward letting more of their employees work away from offices even after the pandemic is over.

Salesforce says that employee feedback indicates nearly half its employees want to come in to offices only a few times per month, but also that 80% of them do want some "connection to a physical space."

"We are giving employees flexibility in how, when and where they work," Salesforce president and chief people officer Brent Hyder wrote in a blog post. "An immersive workspace is no longer limited to a desk in our Towers; the 9-to-5 workday is dead; and the employee experience is about more than ping-pong tables and snacks," he added.

Coastal cities like San Francisco, Boston and New York have been magnets in recent years for tech companies and their highly paid employees. Booming economies in these and other similar metro areas have pushed up housing costs, reducing affordability for many lower-income residents, as cities have also struggled with homelessness.

How many workers with long-term remote work options available to them will decide to relocate to the outskirts of cities, or further afield, will be an issue for local leaders to watch in the coming year and beyond—not just in the places where those people are departing from, but also in communities they are moving to.

There are also questions about how the shift to more permanent remote work will affect demand for office space and what that will mean for broader downtown economies, local property tax revenues and commuter patterns.

At the same time, wider-spread telework could mean new job opportunities for people who've been living outside of big cities. And state and local officials eager to attract new residents may try to seize on the workplace trends. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, last week called for spending $50 million on a campaign to lure more people to his state.

Some major companies also moved ahead with notable investments in office space. Amazon last year outlined plans to spend over $1.4 billion to expand its offices in six cities. And Facebook, in spite of its remote work plans, bought a 400,000-square-foot office campus in the Seattle area from REI for $390 million.

Hyder said in his post that Salesforce would be redesigning its workspaces over time "as community hubs to accommodate a more hybrid" work style. "Gone are the days of a sea of desks," he added.

Bill Lucia is a senior reporter for Route Fifty and is based in Olympia, Washington.

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