Today, we’re joined by Wade Wegner, SVP Developer Platform at Salesforce and Product Leader for Work.com. We learn about the new collection of tools and resources, built on the Salesforce platform, to help businesses navigate the reopening process safely and responsibly.
Join us as we talk about how Wade and his team were able to build out Work.com in a matter of weeks, the new considerations companies face as they look to reopen, and how Work.com’s suite of tools and resources can help you.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Wade Wegner.
Why Salesforce is the perfect tool to help with reopening.
“About a month and a half ago, I started having conversations with some of our internal leaders around how Salesforce was going to start thinking about reopening our offices,” Wade says, “and given the global pandemic, this is a topic that is on everyone’s mind right now. How do we reopen and do so safely?”
As they were working through all of the challenges that that entails, they realized that the answer was right in front of them the whole time: the Salesforce platform. “We have an amazing platform that can do just about anything you can imagine,” Wade says, “and so we started imagining a lot of the ways that we could use the platform to help reopen Salesforce.” At the same time, the executive leadership started talking to customers and realized that everyone was going through the same process, and could probably use some help. Those conversations turned into Work.com, a comprehensive set of resources and tools to help you reopen your businesses and offices safely.
New Employee standard objects to help.
The Work.com team was able to go from an idea to a full-fledged solution so rapidly because they built it 100% on the platform. With all the information you need to track, Salesforce makes a lot more sense than cramming everything across a hundred different spreadsheets. For one thing, you’ve got all sorts of compliance and privacy concerns with health information. For another, you need to compare a bunch of data about your employees while also keeping track of key metrics, applications where Salesforce is the perfect tool for the job.
The one thing they’ve added into core is an employee data model with a set of standard objects to help keep track of all of the new information. It’s been backported so it will be available as part of the Summer 20 release. “We’ve met with the CDC and other medical experts to code and create survey templates that define the questions you should ask and the type of information to collect,” Wade says. There are flow templates, a page layout for a command center with key information from both what you collect and public data sets, dashboards for facilities managers, and more, all of it customizable to fit your individual needs and mobile-ready out of the box.
How reopening impacts the ENTIRE organization.
There are many challenges facing companies looking to reopen in a safe responsible way. “The experiences we’re going to have in the office will be different,” Wade says, and training and enablement will be key. Built-in to Work.com are content kits that provide best practices (again, customizable templates) that will help those who can return be ready to do it safely. How do you properly social distance in an elevator? What happens if and when someone gets sick, and how do you notify your employees? “You don’t want to manage this through spreadsheets,” Wade says, “you need a set of best practices and tools that facilitate this.”
“Pretty much every company in the world is thinking about this,” Wade says, so you can be sure pretty much anyone in a management position is eager to talk about this, whether they run facilities, HR, or are scheduling shifts. “I think there’s a real opportunity to talk to them about a solution that brings this together and provides the platform to reopen on top of,” he says, and with a different set of stakeholders than admins are usually used to thinking about.
Listen for the full episode because there’s so much to learn in this ever-changing situation and there’s a lot of information here, including how Wade’s team pulls public health data into Tableau, new considerations facing companies, and why not everyone might want to come back to the office. “We’re all a part of our community, we’re all part of this company,” Wade says, “so many people have contributed and worked so hard at this because we want to see people be able to return safely.”
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Full Show Transcript
Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, where we talk about product, community and careers to help you become an awesome admin. I’m Mike Gerholdt.
Gillian Bruce: And I’m Gillian Bruce.
Mike Gerholdt: Joining us today is Wade Wegner, SVP developer platform and product leader for work.com. This is super important for admins, so I’m glad that Wade was able to take time out of his day and come on the podcast. So Wade, welcome to the podcast.
Wade, welcome to the podcast.
Wade Wegner: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.
Mike Gerholdt: So let’s start. Work.com, what is it?
Wade Wegner: Work.com, well, I think… Let me start by actually stepping back a little bit, and to say that about a month and a half ago, I started having conversations with some of our internal leaders on the HR side and real estate, and around conversations for how Salesforce was going to start thinking about reopening our offices. Given the global pandemic, this is a topic that is on everyone’s mind right now, is, how do we start to reopen our businesses? How do we reopen communities? Just, how do we reopen, right, and I think, importantly, do so safely.
So we started thinking about, and I would imagine most people that are listening today can expect and imagine how much the Salesforce platform can actually help facilitate a lot of this, right? We have an amazing platform that can do just about anything you can imagine. And so we started imagining a lot of the ways that we could use the platform to help reopen Salesforce. At the same time, a lot of us, some of our executives, I think Marc Benioff in particular, started talking to our customers, and realized everyone is going through the exact same thing.
So we started to think, how could we take advantage of, really, the expertise that we’re very fortunate to have at Salesforce, through our own employees that are domain experts, and real estate, and facilities, and HR, but then also, how many people can call up David Agus and start asking questions about what to do in a global pandemic. I mean, not many can, but we have that affordance here, thanks to our leadership and so forth. So how do we turn all of this into a set of best practices that can help others also think about reopening? So out of all of that was born work.com.
You can type work.com into the browser. It’ll give you all the marketing around it right there at your fingertips. But I’ll say, work.com is a set of tools. It’s a set of learning and enablement that’ll help all of you think about reopening your businesses, reopening your offices safely.
Gillian Bruce: I love how quickly that all happened, Wade. I mean, and we’ve all been in this together. You described, it was just a month ago where you started these conversations. Can you tell us a little bit about how you’re able to kind of put together this incredible, kind of, product with such a short amount of time? Like, what was that like? How did you get Teams to swarm on it?
Wade Wegner: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Tell me a little bit about that story.
Wade Wegner: Well, we built it on the platform. I don’t know any other way to say it. It is a hundred percent built on the platform. When we deploy work.com command center, for instance, it is actually a managed package. It is a collection of metadata that describes how all of this will operate. And all of the ways with which the componentry and the solutions and the apps in it function are based on the technologies that exist today in the platform. Whether it’s different components communicating via events, or taking advantage of a lightning web component to provide a rich, actionable set of things that you need to do as, kind of, a checklist. All of this stuff is built in the platform.
So, yes, I think we started actually doing the development work weeks ago, not months, weeks ago right in the middle, by the way, of a release. So it’s not as if we weren’t already working on things. I will say, I don’t know that I… I mean, I’ve been at Salesforce now four and a half years, others have certainly been here longer, but I don’t know in my career, I’ve actually seen a company pivot and swarm as fast as Salesforce did here. Honestly, it was because of our CEO, Marc Benioff. He, I think, has been more plugged into what is happening in the world right now, and what other executives are thinking about, and what’s happening just globally right now that he really was like, “We need to help people. We need to swarm,” and we did.
I mean, we’re talking about, this is not just my organization. This has been a virtual collection of engineers, of doc writers, of QA and performance engineers across the company, coming together to get us to this first deliverable, which we’re going to be officially launching on June 1st. It’s been pretty remarkable.
I think it’s been a collection of building on the platform, and we can break that down a little bit, if you’d like, as well as, I think, just the goodwill and the nature of this company to do good and to help people reopen that enabled us to do this.
Mike Gerholdt: I would love for you to touch on that more, because as I hear this, I think, well, just to be the bad guy in the conversation, I could just do that on a spreadsheet, Wade. I don’t need your fancy app.
Wade Wegner: Yeah. So one of the things interesting here, Mike, is that this is employee data that we’re starting to talk about, right? So think about one of the first things that’s going to happen when we reopen, is we’re going to have to understand everyone’s wellness, and how they are feeling, and what… Have you been sick? And have you been exposed to symptoms? And so forth.
So I think, all of us would recognize the danger of doing this in spreadsheets. First of all, it’s not going to be nearly as organized, and so forth. But we’re talking about PII. We’re talking about personal information. We need to think about this from a compliance perspective. Even the collection of employee information requires consent on behalf of the employee. How do you start to do that? How do you collect consent? And then, if you are a force to showcase that consent in the future and prove it to a regulator or an auditor, how do you do so?
Well, I mean, that’s the advantage of using a platform that can do all of that. I know that was a bit of a facetious question there in perspective, Mike, but you’re right, though. Almost everyone is thinking about this now. And almost everyone is looking at doing this through a bunch of spreadsheets, collecting… Who’s going to be the phase one, phase two set of employees? Collecting, like, are they healthy? What happens if they become sick after they’ve come back to the office? I think we can do more than do this through spreadsheets. And that’s what work.com tries to do.
Gillian Bruce: Well, I’m always a fan of getting rid of spreadsheets.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, absolutely. We all are.
Gillian Bruce: Boo, spreadsheets. So you mentioned that the platform kind of already had this infrastructure in it. Can you tell us a little bit more detailed about some of the specific features that are in, basically, this package that you’ve helped lead the team to create, that specifically help accomplish these things that people are right now probably doing on spreadsheets?
Wade Wegner: Yeah. Totally. First of all, I realized, I did lie. So the first thing I did as you invited me on this podcast, and then I lied to everyone. So apologies. We did actually check one thing into core, and that was, we’re actually releasing an employee data model. So it’ll be a set of standard objects that will be inside a core. I think everyone kind of hopefully understands the value of doing that. It gives us that central place to start modeling all of these activities around employee-centric information, right? So you can define relationships, managers, all of that kind of stuff. So we did actually check that in, and actually back ported it so that it will be available in our summer release.
Beyond that though, what’s in it? Think about tracking and understanding employee wellness. That’s taking advantage of our surveys’ products. So we’ve met with the CDC and a bunch of medical experts, and encoded and created survey templates that actually define the questions you should ask and the type of information to collect. Those are all built as templates that’ll be provided to you as survey templates that then you can customize, should you want to. Maybe you want to ask some additional information. Maybe you don’t want to ask some information. You can define what you want and then deploy them to your organization.
Same with flows. Once you started to collect this information, there are flow templates that’ll be provided, that’ll help you to think through the decisions that need to be made. So, Gillian, you may be well enough to return, maybe you don’t want to return to the office. And how do you start to collect and think about managing that process? So that is part of it.
Then, just the command center itself is a page layout. It’s a page layout that has been then decorated with additional things. So you think about all of the componentry there. We’re modeling also public data sets through MuleSoft. When data changes on that page, how does it orchestrate and update other components? How do you think about the actions that occur in one component and another? All of this is just additional metadata built on top of that solution. Really, there is nothing you wouldn’t expect from a Salesforce platform application. It’s just all there, ready for you to start to customize, extend and kind of make your own.
Gillian Bruce: I love that a lot of those tools sound like things that admins are already very, very familiar with. I mean, you’re talking about page layouts, you’re talking about flows. I mean, surveys, I know plenty of admins have already kind of dabbled in the survey arena. Powerful, very declarative first, or low code tools that I think a lot of our admins would already be familiar with.
Wade Wegner: Yeah.
Mike Gerholdt: And you talked about checking in, so there’s also a mobile component of those as well, which is just native to the platform. I mean, I remember back in the day when, as an admin, I used to have to think about mobile consciously. And now, it’s just, no, it’s just part of it and the app just adjusts.
Wade Wegner: Absolutely. Totally right. The surveys, they are mobile friendly. The dashboards for executives or operations and facilities managers, just any kind of manager, those are also mobile-ready. So you will get a mobile rendering that you can just open it up on your device and away you go. So absolutely. It’s incredible, the value that the platform just provides. You don’t have to think about targeting all of these different unique scenarios.
Gillian Bruce: I think one of the things that is really valuable, the more that I hear you talk about this, is a lot of organizations, they need to do this, but it’s like such a gargantuan effort. They’re not going to try and develop their own tools to do this. They are going to use whatever they can and go as fast as they can. So the fact that this is something that is already on a platform, which organizations who are using this are familiar with, I think is such a great benefit. I mean, I can imagine a small business, right? Maybe you’re not functioning at full speed, full resources, and here you go, you can now kind of use the existing tool that you’re using to run your business to really get everybody back to where we need to be.
Wade Wegner: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Very, very cool, I think.
Wade Wegner: One of the things that I don’t know that I appreciated until we started really working on this, is how tightly connected all of these things need to be. So imagine, understanding employee wellness is like, step one, right? Let’s say we’re all ready to go back. The experiences we’re going to have in the office will be different. How are we all going to be prepared for those new experiences, the new normal? This is where that training and enablement is key. And so built into work.com, there’s these new content kits that we’re providing, that provide what we believe to be best practices. The encoding of the things that people should expect, we’ll give it to you as a template, as a starting point, and you can then customize it and then deploy.
So that, for those who can return, make sure that they’re ready to return, right? Because if they’re not ready to return, if they don’t understand what the new procedures and policies are going to be, they could put themselves or others at risk, right, like if they don’t know how to properly social distance in an elevator. It’s really interesting when you think about it. We’re going to have to understand elevator capacity so that we can plan the flow rate of individuals from a lobby to a floor. And then when they’re doing that, what should you expect through that? Should you be talking to people on the elevator? The answer is no, you probably shouldn’t. And so, how do you make sure people understand what to expect before they return? That learning and enablement piece is key.
But then we have to also acknowledge the fact that once we return, there will be people that will get sick. And what do you do when someone that you may have been in touch with, ends up actually becoming sick and needs to stay home? What is the responsibility of the employer to notify you? So that ability to understand who has been in touch with what, and to let the employee really be at the center of it as well, so that like, if we all were on the same floor and I’m sick, I should be able to allow my organization, my employer, to know that I had been in touch with you, and so on, right? So that then, they can notify you.
All of these things are kind of interconnected in terms of how that works, because then, you would expect that the next wave of surveys sent to employees is going to be slightly different depending on whether or not you were engaged with someone that is now sick. You don’t want to manage this through spreadsheets. You need a set of best practices and tools that facilitate this.
Mike Gerholdt: Well, and I’m thinking of, as you’re walking through that, I’m thinking of… as a smaller business, even a larger business. So I got an employee app, which I probably had already, right, something to manage my employees. Now I need a survey app. Then you were talking about learning, and data management. So on top of me trying to retool my entire business, right, to keep it afloat, I’m thinking like restaurants, all of a sudden now it’s drive up curbside or delivery. I’m running all that. To have to go through… I think, the biggest part for me is that learning and enablement part, right, which I saw that in the work.com video. It’s just, I think that’s such a huge differentiator, because now I put this in place and I have a way to teach people native within it, as opposed to seven or eight different apps that I have to log into and try and piece mail, “Okay, Susan is Susie here, but Susan in this app,” and try and keep that all together. It just like, it’s the stuff that you just take for granted now.
Wade Wegner: Yeah. No, absolutely.
Mike Gerholdt: The part for me, I think there’s a lot of it and… When you mentioned the employee data, and you mentioned the surveys, that’s all employee-offered, right? It’s like the employee opts in, the employee’s giving that employer that information, employee chooses to fill out that survey, right?
Wade Wegner: Yup. Yeah, absolutely. If you look at some of the demos that you might find of work.com online and in various videos, and so forth, you’ll see that we at least ask for consent and acknowledgement with every survey and every interaction with that employee, so that we can document that you’ve given the consent for this information to be captured. You can decide not to. And there’s an option. In the survey, it’s built in. You can say no and you just, you won’t be asked to come back to the office initially. Then it’s up to you if you want to keep saying no. I mean, we’ll let you and the employer figure that out.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. When you said, when offices do open up, I might not want to go back to work. Believe me, I’ve got a nine-month-old. I am ready to get back to the office.
Wade Wegner: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Actually, here’s what’s really… Another interesting thing is, as I’ve talked with customers, there are customers that have other sorts of criteria that they want to use with respect to determining who should return. One customer was talking about how they have found certain teams, or even certain individuals have actually been more productive remotely than they were otherwise, but then some teams aren’t as productive.
I think, you both can imagine this, but you can model this kind of data in our platform, right? Create custom fields, custom objects that encapsulate other pieces of information that might be important to you. And, through a customizable survey, you could start to model that in this part of the decision making process, right? You may not even want to send a survey out to individuals that have been identified as highly productive. You might want to wait for a little while. Let them stay productive remotely. For those that, they’re well enough to return and perhaps they’ve not been as productive, maybe bring them back into the office sooner.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. It’s more than… I think the biggest thing that dawned for me on all of this return to an office, because I don’t want to say return to work, is it’s not just whether you’re well or not, but it’s also what’s that journey getting there. Because you may have somebody at home that is a high risk, right? So the journey to the office might be harder for you, and back home, than just being able to stay at home and work and be productive.
Wade Wegner: Yeah.
Mike Gerholdt: I’m hearing this and I’m internalizing it, and maybe my boss has missed everything because they’re busy. I’m the Salesforce administration, I want to bring this to him. Within my organization, where do I start this conversation?
Wade Wegner: Well, we alluded to it earlier. I think, pretty much every company in the world right now is thinking about this, right? Again, it could be reopening and keeping employees safe. It could be reopening and keeping employees safe in the context of customer interactions. At one level or another, almost everyone is already talking about it. I mean, I would encourage to talk to someone in your organization, in the HR department, if you have people responsible for offices, facilities, restaurants, maybe their managers, general managers and so forth. They’re all talking about this. They’re all thinking about this. People who are responsible for defining shifts. How are you going to define a shift? I mean, how are you going to do that when you need to be cognizant of who’s available, and are they healthy and so forth?
I think, it’s probably different everywhere. But I think all of us can probably think and pretty easily identify those individuals that are involved in those sorts of decision making. Again, it could be HR. It could be facilities. It just could be your leadership or general management, as well. I think that’s where to start. Again, I would be very surprised if they weren’t thinking about this already and probably starting to model out some of this in our friend, the spreadsheet. I think there’s a real opportunity to talk to them about a solution that kind of brings this together and provides the platform to reopen on top of.
Gillian Bruce: So you’re saying admins can save even more people from spreadsheets?
Wade Wegner: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: Because these, I mean, these are not the typical business partners and stakeholders that I think admins typically think about.
Mike Gerholdt: Right.
Gillian Bruce: HR facilities, they are definitely someone that is part of building an app. But this is entirely focused on those personas and those kinds of leaders. I think, it’s an interesting opportunity for admins to maybe get exposure, kind of create those relationships, strengthen those relationships with different parts of the organization as well.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.
Wade Wegner: Just thinking about this, too. One of the partners we have, engaged with us now, is building out inventory management and supply chain management. Think about it. Supply chains are disrupted right now and they will be for a while. There’s probably someone in your office that thinks about supply chains. Even at Salesforce, I was learning from a supply chain perspective, as well as a contracting perspective. We plan to do three to four times the cleaning that we did in the past, continual cleaning. That’s a lot of additional cleaning supplies, right? That’s another dimension to this, is based on how many people you bring back at what rate, it’s going to impact supply chains, it’s going to impact all of these things. So you’re right. It’s a great observation that it’s a different set of personas and individuals that could really benefit from a solution like this.
Gillian Bruce: One of the things I know that is part of, kind of, the command center, we talked about the page layouts, is it’s also a hot topic that I know a lot of admins are interested in learning more about, is Tableau.
Wade Wegner: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: Can you talk to us a little bit about how Tableau is part of work.com and what that means, what that kind of looks like?
Wade Wegner: I’ll actually step back a little bit. One of the things that’s really neat, and you can actually Google and search for this right now, is you can look at the COVID-19 Tableau data sets. We have started to aggregate trusted data from many different sources and allowed you to start to really visualize this data. That is kind of independently available today. So you can take a look at that. We are looking to take it to the kind of the next level, in that we want this data source, all of this data, to be available in the context of our decision making.
If you think about Tableau, it’s great, the visualizations, but we want to start to model this information as we would think about using it as objects. This won’t be here at GA initially. Well, initially GA have embedded Tableau dashboards, and that’s great, right? So you can start to drill in and take a look. But shortly after GA, we will have actual representation of this public data as objects in an org as well.
Mike Gerholdt: Wow.
Wade Wegner: Now, you can think about actually just making decisions based on data that is local to employees. So what is happening in the community? What is happening in the state? You might want to respond to those things differently. And so, with that data available as objects… And I don’t want to promise if it’s an external object or what not yet, because we’re figuring a lot of this out still.
Gillian Bruce: Forward looking statement.
Mike Gerholdt: Forward looking statement.
Wade Wegner: Very forward looking. Yes. Yes. But, having that kind of data available is key, right? So you can start making decisions. So that’s what’s really exciting about all of that. That is actually based on work that’s being done by the Tableau team, by the MuleSoft team, by Einstein Analytics. A really neat way to think about the power of data, and how having that data available is going to be a differentiator for people as they think about reopening and returning.
Gillian Bruce: That is awesome, Wade. That makes me… Like, my data nerd is ignited inside of me and I can’t wait.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.
Wade Wegner: Yeah.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Looking at the Tableau aspect of it, to me is just like, it so brings everything that you do right to the forefront and helps you understand because, I think, it’s one thing to understand. Okay, you talked about elevator flow and shift scheduling, but then you have to consider this in the context of the world that you live in.
Wade Wegner: Yes.
Mike Gerholdt: Like, is your county busier than other, right? Like the county Gillian lives in is very different than the county I live in Iowa, you know?
Wade Wegner: Yeah. Yup. Yeah.
Mike Gerholdt: It’s fascinating.
Wade Wegner: What’s going to happen is, we’re going to see as communities start to reopen, some are going to open and then they’re going to start to close down a little bit, right? And you’re going to want to be able to respond to what is happening. That is the intent of this data, and being able to visualize what is happening helps you to make decisions as well. And so, it’s going to be critical in terms of making sure that employees are safe.
Mike Gerholdt: Very cool.
Gillian Bruce: That’s awesome.
Mike Gerholdt: Very cool, Wade. Well-
Gillian Bruce: I mean, I think I will…
Mike Gerholdt: Go ahead. Gillian and I have only been doing this for like six years together-
Wade Wegner: You’re great.
Mike Gerholdt: … and any time anytime we have somebody on the podcast that we’re just stumbling over to ask questions about, it’s because we’re both just giddy over the product.
Wade Wegner: No, that’s great.
Gillian Bruce: Yes. This is true. Well, on that note, I was going to say, Wade, I’m going to thank you on behalf of like all people who are going to be using work.com in the team, because this is so cool. And I think it’s going to be so helpful for so many people. I know I’m excited to see how we use it at Salesforce. And I know that there’s a lot of people that are listening that are going to do what they can to get their leadership to buy in and use this to help them get back to whatever the new normal is.
Wade Wegner: Yeah. I think, this is the thing that I’ve taken from it, is so many people have contributed and worked so hard at this. And I think we all have a vested interest in seeing this work, right? We’re all a part of our community. We’re all a part of this company. We want to see people be able to return safely. And so I have to give a huge shout out to just hundreds of people that are literally, they have set aside their day jobs, they have set aside their priorities to be able to help us deliver this. It’s been humbling. It’s been inspiring. It’s been awesome to see.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. To me, it fits right within the culture of Salesforce, but overall, it’s just one of those things where it really makes us all considerate and caring of each other.
Wade Wegner: Yeah. Yup.
Mike Gerholdt: Like thinking through how can we all get back to our offices, being around our coworkers, people that we know and love the best, and being considerate and safe. It’s a great thing.
Wade Wegner: Absolutely.
Mike Gerholdt: If you want to learn more about all things Salesforce admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. And as a reminder, if you love what you hear, be sure to pop on over to iTunes and give us a review. I promise, I share them with the whole team. You can also stay up to date with us on social for all things admins. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no i, on Twitter. And you can find me, I am @MikeGerholdt and Gillian…
Gillian Bruce: @gilliankbruce.
Mike Gerholdt: So with that, stay tuned for our next episode.
Gillian Bruce: And we’ll catch you next time in the cloud.