Tech giant Salesforce joins effort to help businesses reopen safely

"We're going to look very different until we're all vaccinated," the CEO says.

May 5, 2020, 12:24 AM

California-based software company Salesforce is joining the effort to help businesses reopen safely amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The customer-management company is building a new platform, called Work.com, to help businesses implement measures like social distancing and contact tracing, company officials said.

"When we go back to work in a few weeks, the virus is still going to be there. So we need to be thinking about what kind of things are we going to be doing to keep ourselves from the virus, or what kind of things can we do to take action to keep our workplaces safe," Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff told ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis.

The platform will include wellness assessments that will allow employers to track employee health, visual maps of contacts and locations to help determine if anyone has come in contact with a sick employee, and shift management tools that can stagger employee shifts to maintain social distancing.

"When we reconfigure our workplaces, we're going to look very, very different until we're all vaccinated," Benioff said. "When we go back to the workforce, I don't think we're going to be coming back with as much commercial real estate as when we left. And certainly, when we come back into our office, we're not going to be sitting side-by-side next to each other either. We're going to be using the same social distancing, which means that I'm going to be staying about six feet away from other employees and customers in the workplace."

Breaking employees into teams that work on alternate days can help keep people from spreading the virus to an entire workforce, Benioff said.

PHOTO: Marc Benioff, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce, speaks at an Economic Club of Washington luncheon in Washington, DC, on October 18, 2019.
Marc Benioff, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce, speaks at an Economic Club of Washington luncheon in Washington, DC, on October 18, 2019.
Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

"If all of a sudden if someone on Team 2 calls and says, 'Hey, I've got a positive test for the virus,' well then that whole team, they need to self-quarantine for 14 days until they know that they are not positive with the virus," he said. "But Teams 1 and 3, they can continue to work."

The Work.com platform will also include resources from the University of California San Francisco and information from business, health and government leaders on how to adapt to the new normal and how to plan for future growth. The company has also launched the Salesforce Cares program to provide employee and customer support to more than 8,000 companies that have signed up, according to Salesforce officials.

Salesforce is one of several companies creating tools to help businesses reopen offices during the pandemic. Global real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield has developed return-to-work guidelines based on what the firm learned helping move nearly 1 million workers back into their offices in China.

"There are absolutely going to be protocols and learnings from this pandemic that are not going to go away," Cushman & Wakefield CEO Brett White told ABC News. "Companies today, they have had to realize that things that they thought could never happen, have happened."

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