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Amazon lets bosses decide how often workers come in, but staff must be ready in a day’s notice


Amazon has axed plans to bring corporate staff back to work in person by January 3 and will instead let managers plan how often their staff should come in – although employees should be close enough to their office to attend meetings with a day’s notice.

The tech giant has 1.3 million employees worldwide, with hundreds of thousands in corporate positions, and ‘at a company of our size, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for how every team works best,’ Amazon CEO Andy Jassy wrote in a memo to employees on Monday to explain the new plans.

He added that the company would be testing the waters to see if its new plan works. ‘We’re going to be in a stage of experimenting, learning, and adjusting for a while as we emerge from this pandemic,’ he wrote.

Despite handing over the reins to team leaders, however, Jassy added, ‘At this stage, we want most of our people close enough to their core team that they can easily travel to the office for a meeting within a day’s notice.’

Amazon has pivoted on its plan to bring corporate staff back to work in person by January 3 and will, instead, let managers plan how often their staff will come in. CEO Andy Jassy explained the new plans to staff in a memo on Monday 

Despite handing over the reins to team leaders, however, Jassy said that employees must be able to show up for meetings in person on a day's notice

Despite handing over the reins to team leaders, however, Jassy said that employees must be able to show up for meetings in person on a day’s notice

That will scotch the plans of employees who hope to take advantage of the latest edict to work anywhere in the world.

But Amazon, whose global headquarters is in Seattle, says it will offer high-performing remote workers the chance to work from anywhere in their home country for up to four weeks a year. 

Jassy said that employees should expect to hear about their team’s plan before January 3 – the date previously set for them to begin returning to the office.

Amazon expects that some teams will continue working from home on an almost regular basis, while others will have more of a hybrid model and some will be in the office full-time.

That will depend on ‘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.’

Employees will also have the option to work for up to four weeks from another location in the country in which they’re employed, which Jassy said many employees have done through the pandemic and found ‘reenergizing’ and ‘inspiring.’

He closed the letter by writing, ‘As mentioned earlier, these are unusual times and we’re all learning together what we believe is the best way to work together to make customers’ lives easier and better every day. And with it being so early in our mission, with lots of invention and change in front of us, you can bet that we will continue to adjust as we keep learning what makes most sense for our customers and teams.’

Jassy became the new CEO of Amazon last July, replacing company founder Jeff Bezos

Jassy became the new CEO of Amazon last July, replacing company founder Jeff Bezos

Amazon’s decision contrasts those of other tech giants that have postponed return-to-work plans over the past two months over concerns regarding to spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Last month, Microsoft told employees that it had indefinitely delayed their return to US offices due to the Delta variant. ‘Given the uncertainty of COVID-19, we´ve decided against attempting to forecast a new date for a full reopening of our U.S. work sites,’ Jared Spataro, a corporate vice president, wrote in a blog post to employees at the time.

Microsoft – which employs about 181,000 full-time workers, of whom 103,000 are in the US. – had already postponed its planned return to the workplace from September to no earlier than October 4.

The company will wait for public health guidance on when it is safe to return, Spataro said, and will then give workers a 30-day transition period to prepare.

Many tech companies had plans for bringing back most of their workers around Labor Day weekend, but Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and a growing list of others have already decided to wait until next year. One by one in August, they announced plans to delay returning to the office until 2022 or potentially later.

CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post in late August that Google is delaying its global return to offices until at least January 10, the second time the company pushed back the date

CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post in late August that Google is delaying its global return to offices until at least January 10, the second time the company pushed back the date

Microsoft told employees last month that it has indefinitely delayed their return to US offices until it's safer to do so, citing the uncertainties posed by the Indian Delta variant

Microsoft told employees last month that it has indefinitely delayed their return to US offices until it’s safer to do so, citing the uncertainties posed by the Indian Delta variant

In late August, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a memo to employees that the company was delaying its global return to offices until at least January 10, after pushing the planned September return back to October.

Pichai noted at the time that starting in January the company will let countries and locations determine when to end voluntary work-from-home policies ‘based on local conditions, which vary greatly across our offices.’

He also promised a 30-day heads up before workers are expected back in the office.

Over the summer, Apple and Google announced ‘hybrid’ work plans that would force all employees to return to the office for at least part of the work week, drawing ire from their employees.

‘Over the last year we often felt not just unheard, but at times actively ignored,’ the Apple employees wrote in a letter to CEO Tim Cook.

Google backtracked from the plan and said that up to 20 percent of workers will be allowed to work from home permanently.

Apple still plans to have employees come to the office three days a week, but the original return date of September has been delayed until 2022.

The iPhone maker also told staff it would confirm the re-opening timeline one month before employees are required to return to the office.

That has sparked angry clashes with workers who wish to continue with remote work, although Apple insists its tangible hardware products require in-person collaboration.  

Twitter, on the other hand, has announced that remote working will continue forever for essentially any employee who prefers it. 

Amazon also differs from most of its fellow tech giants in that it has shied away from enforcing workers to get vaccinated to keep their jobs. 

It is said to have done so amid fears many of its 950,000 warehouse staff could quit. The retailer will instead offer regular testing to comply with President Biden’s new law, which stipulates that employers with over 100 people must impose vaccine mandates, or provide regular testing.  

Meanwhile, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook have all put forth requirements for their workers to get the shot.  

Read CEO Andy Jassy’s full letter to employees below 



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