The Amazon headquarters sits virtually empty on March 10, 2020 in downtown Seattle, Washington. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Amazon recommended all employees in its Seattle office to work from home, leaving much of downtown nearly void of people.
John Moore | Getty Images
Amazon is instructing corporate staffers to spend at least three days a week in the office, CEO Andy Jassy wrote in a memo on Friday.
It 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.
Jassy said he and the S-team, a tight-knit group of senior executives from almost all areas of Amazon’s business, decided at a meeting earlier this week that employees should be in the office “the majority of the time (at least three days per week).” They made the decision after determining that it would benefit the company’s culture and workers’ ability to learn from and collaborate with one another.
Amazon plans to implement the change on May 1. There will be some exceptions to the rule, Jassy said, such as customer support roles, which have the option of working remotely.
“It’s not simple to bring many thousands of employees back to our offices around the world, so we’re going to give the teams that need to do that work some time to develop a plan,” Jassy said. “We know that it won’t be perfect at first, but the office experience will steadily improve over the coming months (and years) as our real estate and facilities teams smooth out the wrinkles, and ultimately keep evolving how we want our offices to be set up to capture the new ways we want to work.”
Other companies have recently called their employees back to the office either full time or several days a week as the Covid-19 pandemic has eased. Google and Apple have required some of their employees to return to the office since last year, while Disney in January began requiring hybrid employees to be in the office four days a week.
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 has also axed some experimental projects.
Jassy said one of the benefits of being back in the office is that employees will have more opportunities to workshop ideas and innovate.
“A lesser-known fact is that some of the best inventions have had their breakthrough moments from people staying behind in a meeting and working through ideas on a whiteboard, or walking back to an office together on the way back from the meeting, or just popping by a teammate’s office later that day with another thought,” he added.
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(With Inputs from cnbc)
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