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When staff at Salesforce, the cloud software program large primarily based in San Francisco, ultimately return to their workplace towers, they could discover that the enjoyable is gone from their famously fun-loving workplaces.
No extra chatting within the elevator. No hugging. No extra communal snack jars.
Earlier than staff may even go into the workplace, they are going to be required to fill out on-line well being surveys and take their temperature. In the event that they move the well being screening and have a great purpose to go in, Salesforce will schedule their shifts — and ship them digital entry tickets for the foyer with an arrival time.
Within the foyer, staff might be requested to attend for the elevator on social distancing flooring markers and stand on different markers as soon as contained in the elevator.
These new command-and-control work practices are supposed to assist defend Salesforce’s greater than 50,000 staff as the corporate undertakes a colossal activity: determining learn how to safely reopen its greater than 160 workplaces world wide.
“It’s going to be totally different,” Salesforce’s chief government, Marc Benioff, mentioned. “It’ll be extra sterile. It’ll be extra hospital-like.
“Issues that individuals love, like gummy bears, big jars of gummy bears in all places, aren’t going to be there,” he added. “They aren’t going to have quite a lot of trinkets on their desks as a result of we all know that additionally spreads droplets.”
Salesforce’s imaginative and prescient of a extra micromanaged office is indicative of the complexities that many companies are grappling with throughout the pandemic and indicators a major cultural shift for workplace staff throughout the USA.
With their ethereal workspaces, fishbowl glass convention rooms and hangout zones, tech giants like Salesforce helped reshape the American workplace from packed rows of partitioned cubicles into open, shared areas. The homey, amenity-filled settings inspired collaboration and neighborhood — whereas decreasing staff’ eagerness to go away for house.
“The open-plan workplace has all the time been in some methods within the curiosity of the corporate relatively than the employee as a result of it socializes productiveness,” mentioned Melissa Gregg, chief technologist for consumer expertise at Intel, the place she researches how expertise impacts staff’ lives. “It forces staff to observe one another’s work, and it creates only a few areas of privateness for particular person staff.”
However the pandemic has made unbounded workplaces a legal responsibility.
Now a few of the corporations chargeable for popularizing the open-office tech ethos imagine they’ve an obligation — and an enormous enterprise alternative — to pioneer a brand new regular. And they’re promoting new instruments for employers wishing to emulate them.
Fb, for one, is betting closely on distant work. Final month, on the identical day the chief government, Mark Zuckerberg, introduced that working from house may change into everlasting for a lot of Fb staff, the corporate launched new remote-working instruments for its enterprise purchasers. They included Office Rooms, a videoconferencing service for staff conferences.
Salesforce, whose cloud software program for companies already permits distant work, is staking out a distinct territory.
After closing its premises in mid-March, the corporate drafted an in depth 21-page handbook to reopen its workplaces. In current firm surveys, nearly all of staff mentioned they needed to return to the workplace. Others who want to proceed working from house might achieve this till not less than the tip of this yr.
“We realized that as a result of the security, the well being, the wellness of everyone seems to be our high precedence, we had been going should handle this like we’ve by no means managed something earlier than,” mentioned Elizabeth Pinkham, Salesforce’s government vp for international actual property.
Salesforce is attempting out its pandemic administration playbook at a handful of smaller places that reopened in late Could — in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul, South Korea — the primary of its workplaces to reopen globally. Benioff mentioned the corporate would apply any classes it realized from the workplaces in Asia to subsequent places which are making ready to reopen.
Firm executives weighed elements like authorities steering and declining virus instances in every area to find out when to reopen. For every constructing, additionally they redesigned flooring plans to allow social distancing and instituted different security measures.
Primarily, Salesforce is approaching the pandemic as if it had been a software program engineering downside. It has deconstructed the advanced technique of reopening into particular person measures that, taken collectively, are anticipated to make the office safer and scale back the dangers of coronavirus outbreaks.
Will the engineering method work?
“We’re going to do it in a wise method. We’re going to watch out,” Benioff mentioned, emphasizing that the pandemic was uncharted territory — I can’t faux to you I’ve all of the solutions. Let’s get actual right here.”
The duty of overseeing the office redesign at Salesforce and nudging worker behavioral adjustments to go together with it falls partly to Pinkham, who oversees the corporate’s international actual property.
For the previous few years, she has labored to create a constant, homelike environment at Salesforce workplaces world wide. In consequence, many now resemble the headquarters in Salesforce Tower, the tallest constructing in San Francisco, the place about 5,000 staff work.
On each flooring, “social lounges” mix a kitchen, a eating room with massive farm-style tables and a living-room-like house with couches. The highest flooring, known as the Ohana Flooring — “ohana” means “household” in Hawaiian — offers staff a spot to hang around, seize a snack and admire the view throughout the day whereas providing nonprofit teams a venue for night occasions.
Now, relatively than attempt to make all of the workplaces appear equally heat and convivial, Pinkham should make every yet one more antiseptic.
“Your plan for returning goes to be totally different for each single constructing,” she mentioned. “And also you’re going to should handle quite a lot of totally different information by way of each single constructing.”
She is redesigning the ground plans for every location, in session with consultants, to satisfy public well being suggestions for social distancing. The corporate is eradicating workstations, as an illustration, to cut back workplace capability.
Desks that stay might be spaced aside, with glass or plexiglass partitions between them. Staff assembly rooms that after held 14 might be severely restricted.
“There’ll be an indication exterior that room that claims, ‘Hey, all people, this assembly room now has a capability of not more than 4 individuals. Please respect that,’” she mentioned. “That might be a part of the brand new regular.”
Salesforce can even use scheduling software program to restrict the variety of individuals working at every workplace. It won’t be a completely automated course of.
The largest office change could also be cultural. Till there’s a coronavirus vaccine, or not less than higher medical remedies, Salesforce staff will discover their previously fun-loving workplace life extra managed by guidelines and tech instruments.
In different phrases, they could get a style of the form of top-down infrastructure that’s extra frequent for retail and warehouse staff — with one big distinction: If Salesforce staff would relatively not fill out day by day coronavirus symptom surveys or don’t like the brand new workplace guidelines, they will maintain working from house.
Workers will nonetheless wish to go into the workplace, Pinkham mentioned, solely much less often and for extra particular causes. To adapt, the corporate plans to schedule sure groups for a similar shifts to allow them to see their colleagues and whiteboard concepts collectively, she mentioned, albeit whereas carrying masks in additional sparsely populated convention rooms.
“It might change into extra of an intentional habits,” Pinkham mentioned of going to the workplace, “versus an ‘I simply get up and go to the workplace as a result of that’s what I do’ habits.”
It’s an concept that can make the tech workplace, as soon as the ersatz house away from house, extra like a lodge.