Amazon makes 850,000m2 bet that its people will get off the kitchen table and back to an office

Cloud and e-commerce boom mean it needs more desks and people that originally planned

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Amazon will expand its presence in six US cities and add thousands of jobs in a bet that the COVID-19 pandemic will not keep workers out of the office for long.

The company said on Tuesday that it will add 3,500 corporate jobs and almost 850,000 square metres of office space across its hubs in New York, Phoenix, San Diego, Denver, Detroit and Dallas over the next two years.

To put the new hires in perspective, Amazon is the second largest employer in the US behind Walmart, employing about 600,000 people. Only around 100,000 of these work in corporate positions, with the others made up of warehouse and other staff.

The expansion goes against the grain at a time when many companies in Silicon Valley and beyond have signaled that they expect high levels of remote working to continue well after the pandemic. Facebook said in May that it would transition up to half its employees into remote work within five to 10 years and Twitter has said they can work from home indefinitely. Atlassian has done likewise, but also said it will continue with construction of a new HQ in Sydney.

One reason Amazon can make such a bold bet is that it has so far made big bucks out of the pandemic. The company's e-commerce platform has become all-but an essential service and its cloud service has boomed.

Last month, Amazon posted a 40 per cent increase in revenues year-on-year for its second quarter. This in a period in which the greater US economy contracted 33 per cent.

The new jobs will range across a number of the company's divisions, including AWS, Alexa, advertising, and its grocery delivery service, Amazon Fresh.

A spokesperson confirmed the jobs are in addition to previous commitments.

Amazon employees are currently allowed to work from home until January 2021. The company said that it expects much of its staff to return to the office eventually, but will take its cues from the authorities. ®

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