Amazon employees are pushing back on return-to-office demands

Push Back On Returns

Push Back On Returns, Employees at Amazon are fighting a mandate to return to offices at least three days a week, creating a petition asking CEO Andy Jassy to reconsider a policy they say has “shattered their trust” in the company’s leadership.

Last week, Jassy announced that employees should be spending the “majority of the time” in the office starting May 1, putting an end to the pandemic-era policy that had allowed managers and their teams to decide what worked best for them. Echoing executives such as Disney’s Bob Iger and Starbucks’s Howard Schultz, who have recently asked employees to come back to offices more often, Jassy cited the need for improved collaboration and a stronger company culture.

Jassy also said he hoped returning to offices more would “provide a boost” for thousands of surrounding businesses. Amazon has more than 300,000 corporate and tech employees around the world.

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“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,” Jassy said in a blog post on Friday. “Our communities matter to us, and where we can play a further role in helping them recover from the challenges of the last few years, we’re excited to do so.

Amazon declined to comment further on the decision beyond what Jassy stated in the blog post. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.) Push Back On Returns

Many employees are irate about the request, especially those who joined the company with the expectation that remote work would be sticking around. Roughly 21,000 workers joined an internal Slack channel geared toward advocating for remote work and expressing concerns about the new policy, employees told The Post.

Employees were not consulted before the policy change, one employee said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of concerns about retaliation.

“The frustration around this is that this had been working for Amazon workers prior to the announcement,” said the employee, who is a member of the group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice. “This was kind of sprung on us. Push Back On Returns

Following in the footsteps of workers at Disney and Apple, employees drafted a petition calling on the company to reconsider. The petition asks Amazon to “protect its role and status as a global retail and tech leader by immediately canceling the RTO policy and issuing a new policy that allows employees to work remotely or more flexibly, if they choose to do so, as their team and job role permits,” according to a draft shared with The Post.

Many concerns raised by employees highlight the general challenges companies are facing in adapting to hybrid work schedules, which was the dominant style of office work for remote-capable workers as of November, according to data from Gallup. Some appear ready to quit if Amazon follows through with the new return-to-work policy. Push Back On Returns

“I’m not going back and I’m on a work visa,” one Amazon employee said after the announcement on Blind, the anonymous corporate messaging board. “Ready to pay the price.”

“I physically can’t go to office due to a medical condition,” another said. “I am basically bedbound but manage to have held on to this job thanks to wfh. So I will have to quit if they don’t make an exception.”

Amazon joins corporate giants such as Disney, General Motors, Starbucks and Vanguard in asking employees to come back to offices more frequently in the new year. And there have been some signs that such requests are working: This month, U.S. office occupancy broke 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels for the first time, according to data tracked by Kastle Systems across 10 of the country’s top metro areas. But occupancy has fallen in recent weeks, and many experts say we could be approaching an equilibrium.

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