In the tug-of-war over working from home, Silicon Valley hopes to outmaneuver Wall Street and win the best talent on earth. And they plan to do it by offering them unprecedented flexibility to work remotely.
Business software giant Salesforce revealed more than 90% of its staff want to decide for themselves when and where they work. According to co-CEO Bret Taylor, companies will need to oblige regardless if they are a New York investment bank or a tech company based in San Francisco like itself.
“One thing that has changed for us and many other companies is that we no longer list vacancies by city but rather time zones,” he told Germany’s Welt am Sonntag, a weekly newspaper published on Sunday. “The pandemic has taught us that it doesn’t matter in which city you live. Only the time zone is important in order to communicate and work together in this world.”
While there are intangible benefits to having workers in the office, such as spontaneous collaboration, so does offering people the opportunity to work remotely from the comfort of their own home.
That’s why Salesforce is expanding its search beyond cities like San Francisco, New York, and Seattle, where it maintains large offices, to potentially anywhere in the world. All employees need now is a connection to the internet.
“In a sense, Silicon Valley no longer describes a specific place, given it has more or less been moved to the cloud ever since the pandemic,” Taylor said.
Broadening the job position to include candidates not just from a specific metropolitan region but across an entire time zone dramatically increases the total pool of talent that potentially could be tapped. Moreover, these can include foreigners who might otherwise require a sponsor for a U.S. work visa, a high hurdle for an employer in many cases, as well as those who can afford to earn a lower wage as a country’s cost of living can be lower.
Salesforce can speak from experience: Since the outbreak of COVID, its workforce nearly doubled in size, growing from 30,000 new employees to hit 75,000 at present, according to Taylor.
“Most [of the new staff] have never even stepped foot in a Salesforce office or personally met their supervisors or colleagues,” he said in the interview.
$28 billion bet on Slack
Unlike its biggest rivals—Larry Ellison’s Oracle and SAP of Germany—Salesforce software never ran on local servers directly situated on the premises of a company. Rather it was founded in 1999 exclusively as a specialist for leaner, typically more affordable, and standardized business software that could easily be downloaded straight from the internet.
Last year Salesforce revenue jumped 24% to over $21 billion on its way to a target of $50 billion by 2026. Its unique focus as a cloud-based software provider from the very beginning has proved so successful that legacy on-premise rivals have been forced to pivot and follow suit with their own dedicated cloud offerings in recent years.
Salesforce is now looking to gain its next competitive edge with its $28 billion acquisition of messaging and productivity app provider Slack.
Even as many Wall Street firms like JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley seek to force their workers back into the office, if needed by compulsory measures, many in Silicon Valley want to attract a different breed of employee less willing to accept the rigid structures of the time-honored past.
“Whoever wants to attract and inspire the best talent, whether they are a service provider, a tech company, or a retailer, must provide them this flexibility [to work where they want when],” said the Salesforce co-CEO, who was promoted in November to serve next to cofounder Marc Benioff.
Taylor, the driving force of the Slack deal as operations chief at the time, said there was no way employees would simply accept going back to the way things were done before the pandemic.
That this trend would continue in the future, he said, is “the biggest bet we made when we completed the takeover of Slack.”
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com