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Corporate America is getting closer to a return to the office, but Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff told "Axios on HBO" that it won't be a return to normal.

The big picture: When American office workers do start going back to work, they will find a host of new policies and practices, ranging from appointments to ride an elevator to temperature checks to restrictions on movement throughout the office.

Why it matters: It's a big reason why many tech companies are taking their time planning a return to the office for those who are able to work from home.

  • As for when he expects to be back in the office, Benioff said, "I hope that actually we're weeks away from that and not months away from that."
  • The issue hits close to home for Salesforce, which has bet big on large office towers, both for its San Francisco headquarters and around the world. In addition to Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, the company has high-rise offices in New York, Indianapolis, Atlanta and London, and it's announced towers in Chicago, Tokyo, Dublin and Sydney.
  • Asked if he now regrets such a strategy, Benioff quipped, "Can you ask me that a year from now?"

Between the lines: In an April 26 tweet, Benioff laid out a series of steps necessary for a June 1 return to work, including the widespread availability of both antibody and viral testing. Benioff said he didn't want to assign blame for slowness in testing in the U.S., noting he is "really in a mode of forgiveness."

  • "I've been working with these governments all over the world, and I have really been, you know, at times very impressed with what they've done. And at times I've been extremely disappointed."
  • Salesforce has seen different scenarios play out in different countries, citing South Korea in particular for having done "a great job."
  • "We should model what they've done," he said. "They're way ahead of us in terms of the testing infrastructure, their vision of integration, of how the testing works."

Yes, but: Benioff also acknowledged that societal norms play a role and that the types of surveillance done in some countries wouldn't go over here.

  • "So you're going to have to pick and choose what the right things are for us," he said.

The bottom line: Benioff called the virus a "great unifier," noting it infects indiscriminately. When pressed, he acknowledged that the virus is exacerbating existing race and class inequalities.

  • He said that institutional racism reveals itself in moments like this, adding we need to have "a greater focus to make sure that we have higher levels of equality in the world and higher levels of health care for all."

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Aug 20, 2020 - Health

Many Americans still don't have coronavirus testing access

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Even after months of building up testing capacity, more than 67 million Americans — or 20% of the population — live far away from a coronavirus testing site, according to a new analysis by GoodRx.

Why it matters: The spread of the virus makes it clear that nowhere is immune from it, and the only way to stop its spread is to know who has it.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Aug 20, 2020 - Health

Schools soldier through coronavirus outbreaks

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Only a few weeks into the school year, hundreds of students, teachers and staff across the country have been diagnosed with the coronavirus or sent home to quarantine after being exposed.

Why it matters: For now, most of the affected schools are opting to play coronavirus whack-a-mole, providing a complicated alternative to in-person and virtual learning.

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."