Amazon no longer plans to bring corporate employees back to the office in droves in early January, instead leaving decisions to individual team leaders at the director level, CEO Andy Jassy told employees Monday morning. in an internal email.
This means that there will not be a company-wide expectation for the number of days that corporate employees work in the office. Previously, Amazon established a “baseline” of three days a week at the office and two days working remotely, as part of its preference for an “office-centric” culture.
Amazon’s new approach indicates greater flexibility.
“We hope that there will be teams that continue to work primarily remotely, others that work remotely and in the office, and others that will decide that clients are best served by having the team primarily working in the office,” Jassy wrote. “We are not intentionally prescribing how many days or what days, this is for directors to determine with their leaders and senior teams.”
One word of caution: “At this stage, we want most of our people to be close enough to their core team that they can easily travel to the office for a meeting a day in advance,” Jassy wrote.
But this also comes with an exception: Amazon will allow corporate employees to work fully remotely for up to four weeks per year from anywhere in their country of employment, if they can do so effectively, Jassy wrote.
The change underscores the uncertainty created by the ongoing spread of COVID-19, including the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant in recent months. The new flexibility also comes amid a significant hiring push from the company. Amazon is looking to fill 40,000 corporate and tech jobs in the United States in a competitive job market.
Some companies have been delaying plans to bring employees back to the office. Microsoft, the region’s other tech giant, is leaving its return date open for now. A study by the Redmond-based company showed that remote working has reduced communication between different Microsoft business groups.
These political decisions are closely watched by other technology companies in setting their own policies, and by business owners and community leaders in the neighborhoods where large technology companies are located. Amazon’s move away from the January payback plan could create additional uncertainty for restaurants and other retailers in and around its large campus in Seattle’s South Lake Union and Denny Triangle neighborhoods, as well as in nearby Bellevue, where Amazon has a growing presence.
During an interview at the GeekWire Summit last week, Jassy addressed Amazon’s difficult relationship with the Seattle City Council, expressing hope for improvement, but saying the company considers the wider Puget Sound region to be its “HQ1” headquarters. now.
Amazon’s decision to delegate the decision to individual team leaders also illustrates the challenge of establishing company-wide policy for the hundreds of thousands of corporate employees who are part of Amazon’s 1.3 million-person workforce.
In her message, Jassy wrote that the company’s leadership team has met several times on the subject and generally agreed on three things: “First, none of us know the definitive answers to these questions, especially in the long term. Second, in a company of our size, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to how each team works best. And third, we’re going to be experimenting, learning, and adjusting for a while as we get out of this. pandemic”.
And she added: “All this led us to change course a bit.”
Jassy noted that Amazon will be in an “experiment, learn and adjust for a while” mode, making it clear that the details are not in the dark. She said employees can expect to hear from their team leaders about their specific policies in early January, which was previously the time frame for a greater return to the office.