Amazon CEO: Directors and team leaders will determine return to work policy for white collar workers

And warehouse staff, datacentre engineers, retail staffers? 'Thanks for your dedication' but no flexible work for you


Amazon says team leaders will determine when white collar workers return to the office and how many days they'll be expected to be in.

The megacorp originally intended to have staff back at their desks for around three days a week from September but delayed this to January 2022 following the rapid outbreak of the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus.

Addressing his "Amazonians" about the latest policy change, CEO Andy Jassy said senior execs had pondered staff questions including when should the return happen; how much time will be split between home and office work; and what fosters the best collaboration and inventions or builds the best connection and culture.

"First, none of us know the definitive answer to these questions, especially long term. Second, at a company of our size, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for how every team works best. And third, we're going to be in a stage of experimenting, learning, and adjusting for a while as we emerge from this pandemic. All of this led us to change course a bit," said Jassy.

"For our corporate roles, instead of specifying that people work on a baseline of three days a week in the office, we're going to leave this decision up to individual teams," he added. "This decision will be made team by team at the Director level."

This means some teams will "continue working mostly remotely", while others will mix up their working week by agreeing to come into the office and working from home. Then there will be those that "decide customers are best served by having the team work mostly in the office".

These choices will be at the discretion of directors after discussions with senior leaders and teams.

"We're intentionally not prescribing how many days or which days," said Jassy. "The decisions should be guided by what will be most effective for our customers. Not surprisingly, we will all continue to be evaluated by how we deliver for customers, regardless of where the work in performed."

Currently, corporate staff must be is close enough proximity to their core team to be able to "easily travel to the office for a meeting within a day's notice". The CEO acknowledged, however, that staff like working from different locations and said the firm wants to offer the option of "up to four weeks per year fully remote" work – presumably when the pandemic is fully over.

"We're anticipating that you'll hear from your leaders about these specific plans before 3 January, which is the date we set previously for people to start returning to the office at least three days a week," concluded Jassy.

As for the employees in Amazon's warehouse and logistics division, people working in AWS datacentres, Amazon bricks and mortar stores or those designing and testing new devices, theyll not be given the same flexibility.

"I just want to thank these teammates for their passion, commitment and continued dedication. It is highly appreciated."

Amazon isn't alone in devolving the decision- making to directors and team leaders. Cisco is borrowing from the exact same play book in proposals it made in July. As for others, Google is asking for staff to be vaccinated before they return to the corporate altar of dreams, and so are Microsoft and Facebook. Apple had recalled staff to return this month but postponed it until January.

Some have made a more permanent decision, such as Fujitsu, which closed half of its real estate in Japan to create regional hubs, or have staff work at home or at customers' sites. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Workday's CEO can't wait for his minions to reconvene at the water cooler again.

Reg readers? Well, as always you spoke sense earlier this year when you voiced your preference for working from home three days a week and in the office for two. Who wants to spend on average two hours a day getting into an office, especially when humans have proven how hard they can work at home in their PJs? ®

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