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Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff expects half or more of employees to work from home after the pandemic: ‘The past is gone’

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Marc Benioff, chairman and chief executive officer of speaks during the grand opening ceremonies for the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco on May 22, 2018.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said on Monday that he expects half or more of his company’s employees to continue working from home after the pandemic.

Despite hefty real estate investments in recent years, including opening the 61-floor Salesforce Tower in San Francisco in 2018, Benioff has accepted that there’s no return to the pre-Covid days. In an interview that aired on CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” Benioff said 50% to 60% of staffers will likely work from home, up from about 20% before the pandemic hit.

“The past is gone,” Benioff said. “We’ve created a whole new world, a new digital future, and you can see it playing out today.”

Like the broader cloud software industry, Salesforce has powered through the pandemic, as companies became more reliant on tools that enabled their customers and employees to stay productive from remote environments. Salesforce’s revenue last fiscal year climbed 24% to $21.3 billion, keeping expansion roughly in line with its five-year average.

Benioff highlighted some of his company’s projects with government organizations around the world tied directly to the pandemic. He said the company rebuilt the city of New York’s vaccine management system and contract tracing system, and put in similar systems in Japan and in Victoria, Australia, in the southeastern part of the country.

“We’re busy,” Benioff said. “We have a lot going on. We have these commercial customers and public sector customers” and these are all “driving our business so aggressively,” he said.

In downsizing its office needs, Salesforce took $216 million in impairments last year due to “real estate leases in select locations we have decided to exit,” according to its annual report. Salesforce is one of many tech companies in the Bay Area trying to figure out how to make use of space that will no longer be occupied by employees. Others include Dropbox, Uber and Zendesk.

Benioff suggested that space will be used for events, training facilities and as “cultural engagement centers.”

“All of these things together make up the new way to work,” he said.

WATCH: Salesforce plans to hold Dreamforce in-person in 2021

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