“The 9-to-5 workday is dead,” according to a new Salesforce policy announcement. The cloud computing giant will instead permanently introduce three categories of flexible work for its employees moving forward: Fully remote, fully office-based, and a flexible category between the two.
Prior to this announcement, Salesforce's remote work option was set to end in August 2021. Like dozens of other major tech companies, it introduced flexible work options last year in response to the coronavirus pandemic. But relatively few of those companies immediately opted for permanent remote work policies. Now, a year in — they are.
The Salesforce shake-up
Salesforce is updating their policy after an employee wellbeing survey found that 80% of their employees still wanted to maintain a connection to a physical space, but about half of them only wanted to come in a few times a month.
So, the office isn't going away, but it's also not mandatory. Here's the full list of new work categories at Salesforce, as explained by their announcement:
Flex – When it’s safe to return to the office, most of our employees around the globe will work flex. This means they’ll be in the office 1-3 days per week for team collaboration, customer meetings, and presentations.
Fully Remote – For employees who don’t live near an office or have roles that don’t require an office, they will work remotely full-time.
Office-based – The smallest population of our workforce will work from an office location 4-5 days per week if they’re in roles that require it.
The idea of working from home part of the time or all of the time isn't new. But in the very recent past, it was seen as a special accommodation — one that the employee needed to “earn” with seniority or hard work.
But Salesforce isn't alone. Infosys aims to have 33%-50% of its workforce work remotely with no end date in sight, and companies like Square and Slack have also made remote work available to all, permanently.
A sign of larger changes?
In the announcement, Salesforce declared that “the 9-to-5 workday is dead” and said it “no longer makes sense to expect employees to work an eight-hour shift.”
These are bold statements to hear from a Fortune 500 company, and they put Salesforce in line with the growing sentiment among workers: If the pandemic is going to permanently change work, why not make sure the change is for the better? We don't have to be trudging on the remote work dreadmill forever, and weekends don't need to feel like 30 minute lunch breaks.
Millennials how will we kill the 40 hour work week. It’s time
— so rock it (@yanneskii) February 9, 2021
Salesforce, alongside other big tech companies, is talking a big game, and it's one that's resonating with many.
Accommodations help everyone
The concept of being able to work from home has been possible for the past one or two decades, thanks to a little thing called the internet. But the idea of coming in to work at the office has nevertheless remained part of the US's identity. A global pandemic was the kick in the pants we needed.
This is obviously good for those with visible and invisible chronic disabilities, who have long been requesting — but much less frequently getting — accommodations that could allow them to work from home. But greater flexibility helps everyone else, too. Brent Hyder, Salesforce’s chief people officer, mentioned a few cases in the new announcement: Those picking up children from school or those caring for a sick family member.
There's a term for an accommodation designed for one group that unexpectedly winds up helping others: The “curb cut effect,” named after the ramps built into public sidewalks to help wheelchair-users in 1990 after a disability campaign, but which have helped everyone with a stroller, bike, or rolling suitcase since. Sure, we needed a pandemic to figure out the importance of flexible work hours — but done right, everyone's better off with them.