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Salesforce's Benioff: The future of work is a 'work anywhere, live anywhere environment' that's all digital

Julia La Roche
Correspondent

Salesforce (CRM) CEO Marc Benioff said on Friday that employees will adapt to a future that’s increasingly digital, as the COVID-19 pandemic shifts the dynamic between companies and their workers.

As coronavirus lockdowns forced businesses and schools to rely on technology to replace in-person work and meetings, it accelerated already existing trends around the future of the workplace.

Weighing in on an increasingly hot topic, the billionaire tech chief — who disrupted the enterprise software space over two decades ago with Salesforce’s cloud-based enterprise software-as-a-service (Saas) — told Yahoo Finance that he’s been asked a lot lately about what the future of work looks like post-COVID-19. 

Benioff said that “we're in this all-digital environment. Here we are, you know, using this technology to communicate and to do this interview,” he said in a wide-ranging discussion.

“And that looks a lot like what the future of work is. It's a work anywhere, live anywhere environment. It's all digital,” the CEO added.

It also accelerated Salesforce’s own product pipeline. The company debuted its “Salesforce Anywhere” offering that integrates Zoom (ZM) and Amazon (AMZN) Chime, among others. It allows for collaboration and work from anywhere, whether it’s at home or the office.

“So it makes collaboration such an effortless part of selling, or servicing, or marketing, or conducting commerce. Or creating a single source of truth with your customer, what we call Customer 360,” Benioff explained.

“For us, the ability to know your customer and to have that deep interaction and integration, with them that is the true vision and promise of Salesforce Anywhere,” he added.

 

Marc Benioff of the United States, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com, delivers a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 22, 2020. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

‘Incredible new world of work’

Pre-pandemic, Benioff never would have imagined building a product like Work.com, a platform he debuted in May that’s focused on helping companies of all sizes reopen safely in the new normal. 

“That's been a huge success. It now represents about 10% of our pipeline. It's amazing,” Benioff said. 

Work.com offers tools that include emergency response management, teaching workers new skills, wellness assessments, shift scheduling, and manual contact tracing. Work.com also incorporates advice from top medical, health, government, and business experts on best practices. 

Salesforce is currently using the Work.com platform as it reopens its offices across Europe, Asia and the Pacific.

“We're learning a lot. We're seeing this incredible new world of work,” the CEO told Yahoo Finance.

“Not everyone is coming back to the office. And if somebody does get the virus, and they get sick, well we have to be able to do contact tracing,” he added. Meanwhile, the company’s manual contact tracing is now being deployed across 35 states in the U.S. to help prevent more spreading.

Elsewhere, Salesforce has also redoubled its efforts to address mental health. The company learned early on that one-third of its workforce reported that quarantines were having a negative impact on their emotions. 

“And so every single day, we've got a Salesforce Be Well call with all of our employees, just to help them do mindfulness exercises, help them to reconnect with others, to help them pay attention to not just their physical health, but their mental health,” Benioff explained.

“And in fact, it's become so popular now that we've had to open it up to all of our customers, even the whole world,” he said.

The CEO also started hosting weekly all-hands meetings for Salesforce’s 52,000 employees — and has been stunned by the attendance levels. 

“It's not unusual for half of them to be on this call. That's amazing to me,” he said. “We haven't done those types of calls since we were a startup...20 years ago.” 

In addition, Salesforce launched its “Leading Through Change” video interview series, where Benioff speaks with other leaders from across industries on “how to be successful during this incredible moment.” According to Benioff, the series has collectively garnered 100 million views. 

“We're trying to enable and to train everyone in this new world,” the billionaire said. “Ultimately, it's about customer success. We have to help get that customer success to happen. But doing all of these things, that is the way to make it happen.” 

Julia La Roche is a Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.