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Salesforce Reverses Course, Demands Some Workers Return To Office

The Salesforce Tower in San Francisco

After months of saying return-to-office mandates wouldn’t work, Salesforce is pulling an about-face.

Some sales employees who live close to the software-maker’s offices will be asked to return to their desks three days a week, according to an internal memo posted by a Salesforce executive in a company Slack channel, Bloomberg reports. 

Although Salesforce plans to continue with a hybrid model, those workers were expected to return to the office Tuesday through Thursday beginning this week, the memo said. Account executives will be expected to meet with eight customers per week, including four in-person meetings, in addition to delivering internal presentations twice per week, Bloomberg reported. 

“Even at Salesforce, we have what I would call factory jobs — folks that are required to be here,” Salesforce co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff said during a Wednesday earnings call, in which he named operational and entry-level workers in need of mentorship among the roles that should return to in-person work. “But we’re never going back to how it was.”

Executives on the call also hinted at a potential reconfiguration of its office portfolio, following last month’s announcement that it would lay off hundreds of employees.

"Over the past two years, we have continued to re-imagine our real estate strategy,” Salesforce Chief Financial Officer Amy Weaver said.  “That is not only to optimize for scale, but also continue hybrid work environment and how people are working and how they're using their space. And this has included reducing our footprint fairly significantly right now."

Weaver added that the company has been opportunistic with regard to its footprint reduction, often coinciding with leases that were already set to expire. 

"When leases come up, and we don't renew when we consolidate into areas," Weaver said. "It's something that we are continuing to benefit from. It is also seeing that we are continuing to evaluate."

The company’s lease at the 875K SF, Boston Properties-owned Salesforce Tower is set to expire in 2031. Salesforce notably put 350K SF up for sublease in its Salesforce West location at 50 Fremont St. earlier this year. 

During the earnings call, the company reported its smallest year-over-year annual revenue increase since it first became a public company in 2004. Projected sales gain would be even less for the current quarter, company executives told analysts Wednesday.

Co-CEO Bret Taylor plans to leave the company in January, one year after stepping into the role, Salesforce disclosed during the call. Shares declined by 9.6% by early afternoon on Thursday, and the stock fell by 37% by the close of business on Wednesday, Bloomberg reported.

The new mandate contrasts Benioff’s statements from as recently as June, when Yahoo Finance reported he told workers at a company event, “Office mandates are never going to work."

Last February, Salesforce became one of the first companies to institute a work-from-anywhere policy, allowing some employees to remain fully remote while some would need to work in person for one to three days per week. By November, it began formally encouraging employees to return to the office, although it placed workplace teams in control of specifics.

Salesforce is the second tech company this week to announce return-to-office mandates. On Monday, Snapchat parent company Snap said it will require its workers to be in the office 80% of the time, starting in late February, Reuters reported.

UPDATE, DEC. 2, 3:07 P.M. ET: This story has been updated with information about Salesforce’s real estate plans.