Salesforce Says the 9-5 Workday is "Dead"; Work is About More Than "Ping-Pong Tables and Snacks”

Illustration for article titled Salesforce Says the 9-5 Workday is "Dead"; Work is About More Than "Ping-Pong Tables and Snacks”
Photo: Stephen Lam / Stringer (Getty Images)

Confirming what we pretty much already knew, cloud-based business software company Salesforce said on Tuesday that the 9-to-5 workday is dead,and also announced plans to allow its employees more freedom in choosing how to structure their work lives going forward.

Thanks in large part to a deadly global pandemic that has forced tens of millions of workers out of their corporate offices and to the very brink of sanity, cultural attitudes about work in America have undergone a dramatic, if subtle, shift in recent months. Even before the pandemic, the tech sector has been acting particularly bullish about certain work conventions for some time now, including in-person meetings, the 9-5 schedule and having one stationary office, or hub, to conduct business out of.

In a blog post published Tuesday, Salesforce announced a series of permanent shifts it plans to implement in its work policies in response to the changes fomented by the pandemic, including permanent work-from-home policies and more freedom for employees to choose their own schedules.

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“As we enter a new year, we must continue to go forward with agility, creativity and a beginner’s mind — and that includes how we cultivate our culture,” wrote Brent Hyder, Salesforce’s chief people officer. “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.

The typical eight-hour shift that’s become customary in the U.S. begins to make less sense, Hyder says, when you begin to factor in picking up young children from school or caring for infirm or elderly family members.

“In our always-on, always-connected world, it no longer makes sense to expect employees to work an eight-hour shift and do their jobs successfully,” Hyder adds. “Whether you have a global team to manage across time zones, a project-based role that is busier or slower depending on the season, or simply have to balance personal and professional obligations throughout the day, workers need flexibility to be successful.”

While Hyder says flexibility will be key to directing Salesforce’s strategy going forward, the company has outlined three initial options employees will be able to choose from in tailoring their office lives going forward: flex, fully remote, and office-based.

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Under the flex plan, employees would come into the office an average of one to three days per week for “team collaboration, customer meetings, and presentations.” Fully remote would be the situation for employees who only stopped by the office rarely — say, for work-related events — and office-based employees would be based in the office four to five days per week, and would comprise “the smallest population of our workforce,” according to Hyder.

The plan laid out by Salesforce is looking increasingly likely to become the norm for companies eager to save money by downsizing their existing office spaces, create attractive avenues for increased work-life balance and hire new employees based outside of crowded coastal hub cities. More importantly, though, it’s a step in the right direction in terms of allowing workers to have more of a say in choosing the shape work will take up in their lives.

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DISCUSSION

What happens to mass transit and our infrastructure if 60% of workers never return to commuting full time?

All that money not spent on gas and tolls and tickets?  

When the economy really gets back on track where is that all going to get spent?