Amazon CEO: No Plans “Right Now” to Force a Return to the Office

Most Amazon office employees are working remotely part of the time. That's not likely to change in the near future.
Adam Rowe

Amazon won't be ordering its corporate employees to return to in-person work any time soon.

CEO Andy Jassy put it as plainly as possible when speaking at LA's Code Conference: “We don’t have a plan to require people to come back. We don’t right now. But we’re going to proceed adaptively as we learn.”

In other words, those who need the flexibility of remote work have won at one of the biggest corporate giants around — but only for now.

Amazon's Stance on In-Office Work

When the Covid pandemic first kicked off in early 2020, Amazon sent its corporate workers home to work remotely, although Amazon's warehouse workers weren't as lucky.

A year later, however, Amazon's stated position on remote work had changed. Now, with vaccines rolling out, Amazon felt that workers should begin to trickle back, predicting that some employees would return to the office in summer 2021, and that the majority would be back in person by the fall.

“Our plan is to return to an office-centric culture as our baseline. We believe it enables us to invent, collaborate, and learn together most effectively.” – Amazon communication to its staff, Spring 2021

By June, though, Amazon had walked that position back slightly. Reportedly due to employee backlash, Amazon now said in an internal memo that all office workers can stay remote for two days per week, with an extra four weeks per year to work fully remote.

According to Jassy today, most employees now work in physical offices while spending “some days” working from home — which sounds in line with that “two remote days per week” guidance.

Will Amazon Stay Remote? Depends on How Many People Push for It

Jassy's addition of “right now” to the end of his comment that Amazon has no plans to fully return to in-office work isn't the only indicator that he may be hoping to ditch remote work options down the line. At the Code Conference, he argued that some elements of the job, like “inventing,” are more difficult when remote.

“I do think there are some things that are harder to do remotely. I think it’s a little harder to invent remotely.” -Amazon CEO Andy Jassy

That sounds reasonable enough, but more than a few surveys indicate that it might not hold true: Efficiency is boosted by remote work, as is employee happiness — surely both of those benefits are a key element in inventing anything, to say nothing of the stress reduction of cutting out a long commute.

Remote work opens up more potential cybersecurity concerns, but the right remote access software does a lot to help. In the end, though, perhaps it's best to let employees decide for themselves if they'd work best remotely or in-person. After all, they can always decide for themselves and leave the company if it doesn't see eye to eye with them.

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Adam is a writer at Tech.co and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He's also a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and he has an art history book on 1970s sci-fi coming out from Abrams Books in 2022. In the meantime, he's hunting own the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.

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