Marc Benioff, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce, speaks at an Economic Club of Washington luncheon in Washington, DC, on October 18, 2019.
NICHOLAS KAMM | AFP | Getty Images
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said on Tuesday that there’s no returning to the pre-pandemic workplace.
“I’m sorry to all my friends, but we’re not all going back,” Benioff said in an on-stage interview at the Code Conference in Beverly Hills, California.
Benioff’s pronouncements on the future of the office are particularly notable since his company’s gargantuan 61-floor tower in San Francisco opened just over three years ago. The company also has large buildings in cities including Indianapolis, London New York and Tokyo.
Those were all constructed before Benioff had 18 months to see how his effectively his company and others can operate with employees working from home or in other remote locations.
“We have almost 75,000 people now,” Benioff said. “They’re not in their towers. We built these gorgeous towers. They’re mostly at home, and that’s fine.”
In July, Salesforce closed the $27.7 billion acquisition of Slack, its largest purchase ever. Slack’s software helps workers stay in touch through calls and chat messages and, along with products from companies like Zoom and Microsoft, has become a central piece of the pandemic portfolio.
“We’re not going back, and that’s why we Slack,” Benioff said.
Benioff previously told CNBC that he expects 50% to 60% of Salesforce employees to work from home even after the pandemic.
He said on Tuesday that his views on remote work are not shared by all of his counterparts. CEOs of large companies call him and say they want their employees to come back to the office, Benioff said. He tells them that work will be different, with people gathering at events, off-site corporate meetings and special training events.
Benioff noted that some companies already operate that way. Automattic, owner of content-management software WordPress, has no physical headquarters but brings employees together at an Airbnb listing once a month, Benioff said. Salesforce’s venture arm is an investor in Automattic.
Last week, Salesforce held its annual Dreamforce conference, with most of the sessions taking place virtually. Benioff said that about 1,000 people congregated in-person at the event in San Francisco. At the 2019 conference, the last one before the pandemic, over 170,000 people attended.