Amazon To Allow Teams To Decide Office Time

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Directors of corporate teams at Amazon will decide how long their team has to work in offices, and how long they will work remotely

Amazon is continuing to tweak its policies regarding its corporate staff and when they will eventually return to the office, post Covid.

In a memo from CEO Andy Jassy, he revealed he would leave it up to individual teams to decide how much time they will spend working in the office, or working remotely.

Amazon’s warehouse staff have been required to work in its fullfilment centres throughout the pandemic (with safeguards), but Amazon’s corporate staff were allowed to work remotely.

Workforce questions

Amazon’s corporate staff had been expected to return to its offices on 7 September, but in August this year, Amazon delayed this and said office staff can only return by 3 January 2022, due to concerns about a surge in delta variant infections in the US.

At the same time Amazon said that it expected most staff to be in the office at least three days a week after offices reopened from the Covid-19 pandemic in January.

But now Amazon CEO Andy Jassy has tweaked this policy going forward in a memo to staff, in which he admitted that Amazon’s previously guidance about the January office return had prompted a range of questions, such as “Who decides which days, does the team need to be in the same days, are there certain functions or teams that can work more effectively at home vs the office (and vice versa),” and many more.

Jassy said the leadership team has met several times to discuss these questions, and generally agreed on three things.

“First, none of us know the definitive answers to these questions, especially long term,” wrote Jassy. “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.”

Director decisions

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

Jassy said that he expects there will be teams that continue working mostly remotely, others that will work some combination of remotely and in the office, and still others that will decide customers are best served having the team work mostly in the office.

“We’re intentionally not prescribing how many days or which days – this is for Directors to determine with their senior leaders and teams,” wrote Jassy. “The decisions should be guided by what will be most effective for our customers; and not surprisingly, we will all continue to be evaluated by how we deliver for customers, regardless of where the work is performed.”

But Amazon is still insisting that it wants most of its people close enough to their core team that they can easily travel to the office for a meeting within a day’s notice, so no moving out of state then.

“As almost all of you are hearing about this change for the first time, and will likely be eager to learn what your team’s plan is moving forward, I’d ask you to be patient with your leaders as it’ll likely take them a few weeks to develop and communicate their plan,” he said.

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