Amazon employees express dismay, anger about sudden return-to-office policy
A group of tech workers created a Slack channel and drafted an internal petition pushing back on the mandate, which requires them to be back in the office at least three days a week beginning May 1. The petition urges Jassy and Amazon’s leadership team, known as the S-team, to drop the mandate, just days after it was announced.
The group has since amassed 16,000 members, and about 5,000 employees have signed the petition as of Tuesday night.
Employee dissatisfaction with the mandate spilled over onto the e-retailer’s internal news feed for employees, called Inside Amazon, where workers repeatedly commented on a recording of Jassy’s recent all hands meeting.
“By arbitrarily forcing return-to-office without providing data to support it and despite clear evidence that it is the wrong decision for employees, Amazon has failed its role as earth’s best employer,” according to screenshots viewed by CNBC. “I believe this decision will be detrimental to our business and is antithetical to how we make decisions at Amazon.”
Employees began leaving those comments after Amazon disabled staffers from “liking” or commenting on Jassy’s memo announcing the return-to-office mandate, according to one employee, who asked to remain anonymous. Each comment shows the poster’s identity and role at the company.
Staffers who posted in the Slack channel said they were caught off guard by the announcement. Many expressed frustration that they’d have to find arrangements for childcare, caregivers for aging parents, or potentially move in order to be within commuting distance of the office.
One worker said they’d recently leased a car that with an annual limit of 16,000 miles assuming remote work was still an option; if they’re required to come into the office at least three days a week, they’ll exceed that limit.
Others took the company’s previous flexible work stance as an opportunity to move outside major cities to find more affordable housing and are now concerned about their commute.
One employee invited Jassy to the Slack channel, which prompted staffers to encourage their colleagues to be responsible and avoid creating too much of a stir, as it could cause the company to shut down the channel.
Many staffers are putting the phrase “Remote Advocacy” in their Slack status in order to show their support for the petition.
In addition to conveying their concerns about the mandate, the petition also presents a number of data points and studies highlighting the benefits of remote work, such as improved productivity, and the ability to attract and retain top talent.
Previously, Amazon had left it up to individual managers to decide how often their teams would be required to come into the office. Jassy had also embraced remote and hybrid work, though he acknowledged Amazon was in a “stage of experimenting, learning and adjusting” and that the company’s return-to-office approach could change.
Last week, Jassy recognized that calling employees back to the office would come with some challenges.
“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, and ultimately keep evolving how we want our offices to be set up to capture the new ways we want to work,” Jassy wrote in a memo announcing the mandate.
Several tech companies have reverted back to in person work as the pandemic has eased. Google and Apple have required some of their employees to return to the office since last year, while Disney in January began requiring hybrid employees to be in the office four days a week.