- Amazon is loosening its flexible work policy for corporate employees to allow individual teams to determine how often workers should come to the office, CEO Andy Jassy said in an Oct. 11 letter to employees.
- The decision follows media reports that the e-commerce giant previously planned to require employees to work three days per week in the office by Jan. 3, 2022. Rather than specify a baseline number of days, Jassy said the company's new approach allows team leaders at the director level to set their own combinations of in-office and remote work, "guided by what will be most effective for our customers[.]"
- Jassy also noted that Amazon wants employees close enough to their core team so that they can travel to the office for a meeting within a day's notice and that the company would allow employees to work remotely for up to four weeks per year from any location within their country of employment.
In announcing the decision, Jassy cited the uncertainty Amazon's leadership team faced in determining which roles were best suited for remote work, and who in the company should be tasked with deciding where work at the company gets done in light of the pandemic.
"First, none of us know the definitive answers to these questions, especially long term," he wrote. "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."
The continued spread of the delta variant derailed competitors' return-to-work plans, too. Last month, Microsoft's executive team announced that the company had "decided against attempting to forecast a new date" for full reopening of its U.S. sites, instead promising to communicate a 30-day transition period to employees in the future.
But if hybrid work is Plan B for employers who are uncertain about the safety of reopening offices, it is an imperfect one in some cases. An August research report by Robert Half found most senior manager respondents were prepared to require employees to come back to the office as soon as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. The concerns of managers have been contrasted with data showing that many workers prefer more flexibility moving forward.
This also is one in a series of talent-related developments at Amazon in recent months. In September, the company unveiled a plan to hire 125,000 fulfillment center and transportation employees ahead of the approaching holiday season along with an average hourly starting wage for those roles above $18. Earlier this year, it followed Walmart and other retail competitors in rolling out free counseling sessions and other mental health benefits for U.S. workers and their families.
More recently, Amazon reinstated employment eligibility for workers and applicants it either fired or deferred because of marijuana screenings, in part due to talent concerns. That came months after the company's decision to remove marijuana from its comprehensive employment drug screening program, a move legal experts previously told HR Dive could have a ripple effect on how U.S. employers approach the issue moving forward.