Leadership perspectives: How Siemens is bringing back 300k Employees to the office

Salesforce CRO Gavin Patterson and Siemens’ Deputy CEO Dr. Roland Busch share their perspectives on the new office normal.

November 4, 2020

“By partnering with Salesforce, Siemens is helping companies re-imagine how they can use workspaces more flexibly and efficiently while maintaining the highest safety standards.”

— Dr. Roland Busch, Deputy CEO, Siemens AG

In the midst of the global pandemic, Dr. Roland Busch, incoming CEO of global technology powerhouse Siemens AG, is re-evaluating how the workplace has shifted for his organization and for others. While working from home, he has reimagined the workplace and helped define his company’s “new normal” with flexible workspaces that give employees more freedom. He’s implementing these ideals through Siemens’ Smart Infrastructure Solution, Enlighted, and a partnership with Salesforce to create safer, more intelligent future-proofed places to work. In this Q&A with Salesforce President and CRO Gavin Patterson, he talks about his values, vision, and the road ahead.

Q: Salesforce and Siemens are values-led businesses. What are your personal values and how will you apply them as you take the reins as CEO?

A: The three values that I have in focus are collaboration, openness, and empowerment – and they are all interconnected. There are so many new technologies and you can’t really invest in all of them on your own. You have to develop ecosystems and collaborate with strong partners to be successful. It’s true that we can do more together. Digitalization is changing the way we do everything. You must be open and ready to learn and relearn in this fast-changing world. To do that, you must have effective employees. If you have the right people and give them strategy and background, and then empower them by trusting them to do their job, they will excel in their work. This is one of the most potent elements of being a leader – empowering people.

“One of the most potent elements of being a leader is empowering people.”

— Dr. Roland Busch, Deputy CEO, Siemens AG

Q: With the pandemic we’re facing today, how is Siemens managing during this difficult time?

A: The pandemic caught us all by surprise, but it’s given us an opportunity to learn, grow and innovate. With 380,000 employees in over 200 countries, it’s been difficult to centrally manage Siemens’ global operations. In response to this challenge, we created a corporate crisis team to give guidance to our regions and empower them to make decisions. We have such strong regional organizations and management teams, that we’ve been able to lean on them to do a great job in terms of protecting the health of employees and providing support for our customers. For example, we continued to make deliveries for customers and deployed new automation technologies, like virtual commissioning, to make things easier.

Q: Salesforce and Siemens entered a partnership in June 2020 with a goal of helping people return to work safely and exploring what the future of what work might look like. Why was it important to come together for this?

A: Because of this crisis, we have found some positive reasons for a virtual workforce. Working from home is quite effective in many cases but can still lack personal connection. There is a possibility of bringing employees back to the workplace a few days a week. The challenge is to figure out how to bring people back to the physical workspace safely during a crisis and how to manage it in the future. We know that Salesforce, with Work.com, has technology to help get people back to work with the support they need. And Siemens has acquired two workplace-focused startups: Comfy, which manages numerous aspects of building space and Enlighted, which provides sensors so you know exactly what’s happening in the building. There was a great opportunity to combine the different functionalities from Work.com and Siemens to create an outstanding solution.

Now, customers can bring people back to work with all the information they need to manage scheduling and meet social distancing requirements. Joining forces presented the ideal solution. We’re currently rolling it out at 600 locations globally.

“With Enlighted, Siemens is offering technology and workflow to help businesses easily implement a secure workplace re-entry. Now, customers can bring employees back to work with all the information they need to manage scheduling and meet social distancing needs.”

— Dr. Roland Busch, Deputy CEO, Siemens AG

Q: How are you envisioning the future of work and what are the opportunities and challenges with this work-from-anywhere revolution?

A: When I was working from home, I recognized the good elements of it. For example, I could connect with customers much more easily and with a higher frequency. It was very simple to connect for a half an hour for a virtual meeting. To preserve this good element of working from home, we have to do something now while it is still relevant.

The key to moving forward is flexibility. We surveyed 8,000 people in our organization on their preferences for the future and most of them said they want to preserve working from home, but required a little bit of human touch, too. It’s not about either-or, it’s a blend. This is how we decided on the balance of two to three days in the office and made sure that it was on a voluntary basis with local differences based on country regulations. We also believe that people can be more productive if they can choose the place where they can work. Future management should lead with an outcome-oriented focus and not worry about how much time is spent in the office. This new understanding required change in management, who now have to consider the future of work in terms of output-oriented measurements and the freedom to choose the right place to be as productive as possible. This thinking also provides more attractive jobs which leads to stronger talent.

“We asked our employees how they wanted to work moving forward. They liked the productivity of working from home, but they also wanted the human touch of being in an office.”

— Dr. Roland Busch, Deputy CEO, Siemens AG

Safe Return: Enabling Secured Office Re-Openings

Enlighted, a Siemens company, partnered with Salesforce, is dedicated to getting your company back to the office safely. Our solution, Safe Return, facilitates space configuration, health checks, workspace bookings, shift management and employee communication. These interactions also place valuable data and insights in the hands of real estate leaders to help optimize their portfolios. See more about Safe return here.

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