Amazon Demands Employees Return To Office In May

Work from home flexibility is coming to an end for Amazon employees, Gizmodo reported. Though most of the company’s 1.5 million full and part-time workers labor in warehouses or as delivery drivers – the e-commerce company giant also employs hundreds of thousands of corporate and tech staff.

After years of pandemic-induced policy allowing employees to telecommute, those desk-based workers will have to return in-person to Amazon offices at least three days per week, beginning May 1. The company’s CEO, Andy Jassy, announced the official change in a Friday afternoon blog post.

From the blog post:

…Because the pandemic lasted as long as it did, we were able to observe various models – some teams working exclusively from home, some in the office full-time together, and many flavors of hybrid – over a meaningful period of time. S-team listened to employees, watched how our teams performed, talked to leaders at other companies, and got together on several occasions to discuss if and how we should adjust our approach. The guiding principle in these conversations was to prioritize what would best enable us to make customers’ lives better and easier every day and relentlessly invent to do so. Our respective views of what we thought was optimal evolved as the pandemic wore on and then eased…

…And ultimately, they’ve led us to conclude that we should go back to being in the office together the majority of the time (at least three days per week). We made this decision at a s-team meeting earlier this week, and for a number of reasons (including the adjustments I know will be required for some employees), I wanted to share with you as early as I could even though we haven’t worked out all the execution details yet. Of course, as there were before the pandemic, there will still be certain roles (e.g. some of our salespeople, customer support, etc.) and exceptions to these expectations, but that will be a small minority. We plan to implement this change effective May 1…

CNBC reported this marks a shift from Amazon’s previous policy, which left it up to individual managers to decide how often their employees would be required to work from the office. According to CNBC, there will be some exceptions for customer support roles, which have the option of working remotely.

CNBC also reported that Amazon is pushing for its employees to be in the office more frequently as it is undergoing a period of belt tightening amid slowing sales and a worsening economic outlook. Amazon initiated the largest layoffs in its history, affecting about 18,000 people, along with a corporate hiring freeze. It also axed some experimental projects.

Personally, as a person who is immunocompromised, I would be extremely alarmed if I happened to work for a company that insists that everyone must be in office for at least three days a week. This will be dangerous for workers who are immunocompromised, and those who live with family members who are immunocompromised.

I also find it troubling that the CEO has worded his post to make it sound as if the COVID virus, (and its many mutations) have magically disappeared. That’s wishful thinking, not reality. I also find it disgusting that the return to office change is – to “make customers lives better” – while risking the health of Amazon’s employees.