In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic compelled businesses around the world to adopt remote work on an enormous scale, moving individuals and organizations into a fully-online landscape. Now, as many go back to “business as usual,” some executives are trying to persuade employees to come back to the office. For Marc Benioff, the outspoken leader of Salesforce, return-to-office orders amount to a futile effort. Along with co-Chief Executive Officer Bret Taylor, Benioff has implemented an open environment where Salesforce employees can choose where to work for themselves.
In contrast, Tesla CEO Elon Musk (among other executives) has made returning to physical offices a priority, drawing resistance from employees—and from opposing figures like Benioff. In fact, both Salesforce CEOs consider their company’s flexibility a recruiting tool that gives the company an advantage over companies like Tesla, JPMorgan Chase, and Goldman Sachs—all of which have issued return-to-office orders of some kind.
For Benioff, remote work is a Pandora’s box that can’t be closed—and he’s backed by studies that show employees are more productive working remotely. These studies also show that, as return-to-office mandates are made, workers are more likely to trade in the stress of office life for a new gig altogether.