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Salesforce calls some workers back to the office amid slowing sales

Months after CEO Benioff said return to office mandates don't work, a bunch told to come in three days a week, take half customer calls in-person

Salesforce is calling some staff back to their corporate desk as it tries to counter slowing growth, despite CEO Marc Benioff saying at the start of the year that return to office mandates "don't work."

According to reports, workers that live near offices were asked to travel in for three days a week from Tuesday to Thursday, starting this week. This was posted by a senior manager on the Slack messaging systems to hundreds of workers, so a fraction of the 73,000 that Salesforce employs.

The staff were told to host eight meetings with customers a week – half of them in-person – and provide bi-weekly presentations. This is intended to "drive more collaboration and success" this quarter, the manager said.

A spokesperson at Salesforce said: "We have a hybrid work environment that empowers leaders and teams to work together with purpose. They can decide when and where they come together to collaborate, innovate, and drive customer success."

The call for some to return follows slowing sales growth at the company, this week reporting a 14 percent uplift in revenues for the period ended 31 October to $7.84 billion. Benioff said on the conference call with analysts that the percentage of remote workers for Salesforce was 20 percent pre-pandemic and at many companies it was now around 50 percent.

He said that as with factory workers, some roles at Salesforce needed to be on site at its "hubs and core offices."

“So I do think that we're going to have a rebalancing. I think even at Salesforce, we have what I would call factory jobs, folks that do are required to be here, whether they are doing maybe very core work or even new folks who don't have maybe the tribal knowledge yet or need the mentorship or folks coming in from college who benefit from being in the office. But we're never going back to how it was. We all know that."

Benioff added: "I think that we're finding a new way forward and there will be more in office... but we'll maintain the flexibility to be at home."

This week, the company confirmed co-CEO Bret Taylor is leaving in January, with the exec saying he has decided to "return to my entrepreneurial roots." Gavin Patterson, chief strategy officer, is also set to leave at the start of next year.

Outside changes at the top, Salesforce is trimming headcount but the company implied last month this was simply related to sales performance.

According to the US National Bureau of Economic Research, remote working has wiped $453 billion off national real estate value, as more employees opt for hybrid working. Salesforce itself has let two thirds of its high-rise HQ in San Francisco.

Snap employees are also reportedly being told by CEO Evan Spiegel that they are expected to be in the office 80 percent of the time starting in February.

In January in this year, Salesforce's Benioff was down on employers forcing their staff back into the office, saying such "mandates are never going to work," but that rule clearly doesn't hold for everyone on the payroll. ®

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