A Toronto address like 10 Bay Street conjures expectations of a cubicle-filled glass tower, water coolers and paper cups. Salesforce Toronto is anything but.
The Silicon Valley-based CRM software company was co-founded in 1999 by current CEO Marc Benioff. He took the company public in 2004, raising $110 million.
Since then, the company has become a force to be reckoned with, growing into a global SaaS heavyweight valued at more than $50 billion with nearly 25,000 employees. The company expanded into Canada in 2006, and recently completed a re-design of their downtown office.
The grand vision for the company came to Benioff during a Hawaiian vacation. That Hawaiian inspiration has been with the company since day one and is built into the culture and the office itself. Ocean themes and organic renewable materials fill the office, embodying a connection to nature–a highly held value at this office.
Ohana is a Hawaiian word meaning family and it happens to be a key tenet of the Salesforce office culture. Every workspace sits on moss green carpet stretching around the perimeter of the office, taking advantage of natural light and views in every direction.
More than 700 people make up the sales, development and marketing teams in this three-floor office which overlooks Lake Ontario on Toronto’s waterfront. Teams enjoy working in collaborative desk clusters, automatic sit-or-stand desks and the latest in teleconferencing technology.
Downtown Toronto offers an embarrassment of riches when it comes to after work dining, but a healthy supply of snacks are on hand to make it through the day. Minimalist designed kitchens built from wood and stone ground each floor, inviting a commingling of the various teams over coffee or a coconut water.
The 1-1-1 model is central to the culture at Salesforce. The concept has been with the company since day one, and though it’s simple, it is very powerful: Commit 1% of your time, 1% of your product and 1% of your equity to those in need locally and around the world.
This model applies to every employee and has resulted in a philanthropic awareness built into collective consciousness of the entire company. Individuals and teams will leave the office for up to a week each year to support a worthy cause, working with underprivileged children and women, building homes, or helping at a food bank. The support continues with Salesforce’ donation of their product (and equity) to not-for-profits who can use their services to help them continue to make a difference for a long time to come.
Education and mentorship is a growing trend in the corporate world, but Salesforce has been ahead of the curve for some time. Though it takes many forms, it starts on day one as new employees are assigned a mentor. Originally designed to ease the onboarding process, the relationships continue long after onboarding is complete.
The learning continues in a modern classroom built at the centre of the office. Classes run daily on topics ranging from career building workshops, mindfulness exercises and more.
We are very focused on career so a big part of what we do, especially in leadership, is make sure we’ve got a lot of training programs in place where everybody feels like they are constantly growing. – Dave Borrelli GM, Salesforce Canada (Commercial Business)
Courses are offered from a wide range of sources including internal staff, Salesforce HQ teams and Salesforce customers themselves. There are also non-conventional talks from the likes of a Neuroscientist discussing stress management or Monks leading an hour of meditation.
The company also offers a $5,000 reimbursement for tuition fees in case you want to pick up a new skill outside of work hours.
Embracing the latest trends is always a challenge for larger companies, but Salesforce has managed to foresee these trends, giving their employees an environment to be proud of. As mindfulness has become a growing facet of health and wellness, Salesforce has adapted their offices to accommodate. Take a few minutes in a sun-filled glass room; find solace in a private room for prayer or introspection; or take a call from a treadmill with spectacular views of Lake Ontario.
The playful aspect of the technology world is not lost on this tech giant. The beer cart will make its rounds on a Friday afternoon and you don’t need to look far for a foosball opponent who is happy to take on the challenge. Boat cruises, dinners and ad hock events are the norm.
The sales-driven company has been able to maintain a culture that rewards more than just the numbers – something unique in comparison to similar organizations.
“Salesforce has been able to maintain a culture that rewards more than just the numbers – we do a really good job at recognizing people who are hitting their numbers (like sending them to Hawaii at the end of the year and all sorts of other incentives) but for the people who maybe are putting in the effort and who have the talent, we want to make sure they still feel passionate that they are contributing.” – Borrelli
Most of the perks at Salesforce were not around just ten years ago and is a direct result of the work–life balance that millennials are seeking out.
“Potential employees are now asking what our culture is like and we can now show what our culture is like … We are seeing a tremendous amount of growth and I think a lot of that has to do with the talent that we have. People come into the culture, they develop this passion for the company because of all the perks that we are providing them and that really acts as a multiplier and that’s what really fueling the growth.” Borrelli
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