Salesforce, a leading cloud-based, software-as-a-service company, announced this week that employees may work-from-home until at least July 31, 2021.
San Francisco-based Salesforce joins the ranks of top technology companies, such as Google, Facebook, Spotify, Slack, Shopify, PayPal and Uber, that have similarly informed their respective employees that they can either continue working from home through the end of the year or up until the summer of 2021. Some companies, including Twitter, Square and Zillow, have made it clear that their people could work remotely for as long as they’d like.
Brent Hyder, Salesforce president and chief people officer, wrote in a blog post empathetically explaining the company’s decision, “We understand that moving our offices to our homes is not always easy or comfortable—especially for those with families at home or for those who are feeling isolated—and we’re working hard to address the unique needs of our employees during this time.” Hyder also added, “To ensure that our employees have what they need to continue working from home, we are offering $250 for office tools and equipment—in addition to the $250 provided earlier in the year.”
A large issue looming over working parents with young children of school age is how can they capably juggle all of their responsibilities and commitments. Companies and schools are scrambling to figure out solutions to this dilemma, especially as it’s been reported that working women bear the brunt of child care—homeschooling their kids, while executing their job responsibilities.
Hyder wrote about this challenge, “To deepen our support for working parents—many of whom are experiencing a difficult start to the school year—we’ve expanded our family care leave, making parents eligible for six weeks of paid time off. In June, we increased our global back-up child care offerings through the summer so employees can get reimbursed up to $100 per day for 5 days each month. And today, we’ve extended that through the end of January 2021.” He also states, “In all situations where schools have been closed and students are learning remotely, parents and guardians will be allowed to work from home, even if that date extends beyond our offices re-opening.”
This is great and comforting news to Salesforce employees who must feel a sense of relief. There are, however, some dark, serious and underlying ramifications to this trend. Some of the large corporations that have offered the remote-work options have a huge competitive edge over their smaller rivals. These companies control near monopolies or dominate their respective sectors. They also have the financial might and depth of management and employees to enact these measures. Smaller companies are at a competitive disadvantage, as they have been told to close during the pandemic and many don’t possess the wealth of talent, technology infrastructure and funds to accommodate and effectively manage staff during long periods of working from home.
As the work-from-anywhere trend continues, it’s reasonable to believe that companies won’t have to rely upon hiring people that live within commuting distance from their homes. This will open up opportunities for people who live in cities and states that lack a robust job market with lots of top companies. It will hurt many others. Companies will recruit the smartest, most talented people from across the United States. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already told his employees that if they move out of San Francisco, due to their new ability to work remotely, they’ll pay people commensurate with where they live. This means that the workers may make less money.
Twitter’s Jack Dorsey admitted that he’d search for candidates across America. At a JPMorgan Global Technology, Media and Communications conference, Dorsey said, “We can get talent anywhere. There’s a lot of folks out there that do not want to move to San Francisco. They feel comfortable working in a much smaller office or just home.” Now, when job seekers apply to jobs, they’ll be forced to compete with hordes of people from everywhere—and not just within their local geographic region.
A new wrinkle has been thrown into the mix this week. Amazon announced that it is seeking out six locations in major cities to hire thousands of white-collar professionals. The online retailer’s move bucks the trend of the other tech companies that have announced their remote options.
Barring any miracle vaccine developed in the short run, it seems that the way we work won’t be exactly the way it was pre-Covid-19. The logical answer will most likely be a blended hybrid solution. Companies will have to allow the continuation of remote work due to potential legal liabilities and alienating their staff. These workers would include people who fall within the at-risk categories, have family members that could be compromised or are highly worried about contracting the virus and won’t feel safe or comfortable commuting on trains or buses and working in office buildings.
For those who desire to work in the traditional manner and appreciate the camaraderie, impromptu meetings, cultivating a social work-life, having a mentor and just getting out of the house, the landscape may look very different. Companies could stagger the days and hours to ensure that there aren’t too many people in the same place at once. Coming into work three days a week, arriving early and leaving early and varied shifts may be the new standards, as opposed to the long-held practice of working a 9-to-5 schedule.
It’s likely that we’ll see creative solutions to balance work, home life and child care. Large companies with healthy balance sheets and lots of cash on hand may decide to offer child-care facilities on their campuses. This could aid in helping out working parents.
The one thing we can probably all agree with is that we’ll all have to adjust to the overall uncertainty for the foreseeable future.