A hot potato: Once again, the argument that remote workers are less productive has been brought up by a CEO. Salesforce boss Marc Benioff made the claim during an all-hands meeting to discuss the company's mass layoffs, where he also pointed an accusing finger at new hires made during the pandemic and younger workers.

Insider writes that Benioff repeated claims he made last month about new and remote Salesforce staff falling short of expectations when it comes to productivity. "We don't have the same level of performance and productivity that we had in 2020 before the pandemic. We do not," Benioff said. "When we look at some percentage of the employees, especially some of the folks that are new employees [hired during the pandemic], are just not as productive."

Benioff said he addressed worker productivity after COO and head of sales Brian Milham told him 96% of the company's annual contract value—ACV measures yearly revenue from each individual customer—was being delivered by 50% of sales account executives.

"Half of our Salesforce is not really productive, and a lot of them are our new folks. So why is that?" Benioff said. "Are we not managing our remote employees well enough? Do we need new skills? Because that's never happened before in the history of the company."

From TSMC to Samsung, virtually every company, especially large tech firms, has been negatively impacted by the post-pandemic slowdown and the current economic crisis of high inflation and rising living costs, which have seen consumers spend less on non-essentials. Salesforce is still closing large-scale deals at a rapid rate, according to its CEO, "but half of our sales organization is really struggling. Like they don't know how [...] Must be a few things going on either psychologically and technically."

Benioff questioned whether part of the problem lay with remote workers, particularly younger ones. He questioned their ability to build relationships with customers and wondered aloud if they "are not having the kind of social experience and meeting folks and getting the kind of swivel-chair enablement we used to have."

Some employees impacted by Salesforce's layoffs say the company's performance review system creates unrealistic goals that set them up for failure. In regards to Benioff's comments, one said, "It's clear he's a CEO from another generation."

Much of the world was forced to switch to remote work following the start of the pandemic. And while many companies are trying to bring workers back to the office, the vast majority say they are happier and more productive at home.

Many managers and executives, especially Elon Musk, take a dim view of remote work, often citing lack of interaction with co-workers as a big problem, but a recent report suggests that remote employees increased their engagement with colleagues between 2020 and 2022.

It's not just bosses who believe avoiding the office equates to laziness; most people think their co-workers aren't being productive while working from home, too.