Amazon CEO’s Ultimatum to Remote Staff: “It’s Probably Not Going to Work”

Jassy is digging his heels in when it comes to his RTO mandate, but still doesn't have the data to back it up.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy is remaining firm on his return to office (RTO) crackdown, telling remote workers that “it's probably not going to work out for you at Amazon” as the “time for disagreeing” is over.

These comments were made at a “fishbowl” meeting that took place earlier this August, around three months after the CEO ordered all white-collar workers back into the office three days a week.

This is the latest development in Amazon's turbulent RTO saga, with the e-commerce retailer falsely accusing employees of not complying with the policy earlier this month, after admitting they have “no data” to justify the new mandate.

Amazon CEO Shows Remote Employees the Door

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy is, once again, making his stance on remote work very clear.

After a very public back and forth between Amazon employees and company execs, the managing director recently told workers who weren't willing to make it into the office three days a week to find work elsewhere, according to sources from Business Insider.

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“We are going back to the office at least three days a week, and it's not right for all of our teammates to be in three days a week and for people to refuse to do so.” – Andy Jassy to Amazon employees

The comments were made earlier this month during an internal meeting referred to within Amazon as fishbowl meetings. “It's past the time to disagree and commit”, Jassy expressed in the call “and if you can't disagree and commit, I also understand that, but it's probably not going to work out for you at Amazon”.

Jassy's words might sound harsh, but they shouldn't come as a surprise. The New York native first unveiled his RTO plan at the beginning of the year, and in July, leaked messages revealed that if company employees refused to relocate to an office hub, they would be forced into a “voluntary resignation”.

Jassy Calls RTO Policy a “Judgement Call”

In the same fishbowl chat, Jassy also dodged questions about what data backed the mandate, despite Amazon being a company famed for making data-driven decisions.

This further antagonized current Amazon employees, with many turning to Slack to vent their frustrations. “The whole answer sounds like he's defending making decisions without data”, one employee wrote.

Jassy instead described the policy decision as a “judgment call” instead – akin to the launch of the company's Web Services cloud unit. He also mentioned he spoke to “60 to 80” other CEOs before making up his mind, with “virtually all of them” favoring in-person work to remote and hybrid alternatives.

However, for Amazon's sprawling US workforce, who have long campaigned for flexible working conditions, these justifications simply aren't good enough.

Amazon's Tumultuous Return to Office Effort

After Amazon first urged workers to come back into the office, employees were quick to resist.

Protests began immediately after Jassy's Feb 17 announcement, and within weeks 30,000 workers signed a petition to formally challenge the action. Unfortunately for the company's remote workforce, this proposal was dismissed, and the ecommerce retailer marched ahead with the May return.

More protests erupted when the company's May 31st deadline came around, with 2,000 global employees staging a walkout to challenge the policy, and issues with the company's Climate Pledge.

Demands for flexible working have surged since the Covid-19 pandemic. However, despite shifting employee preferences, an increasing amount of businesses are rolling back liberal working policies, citing productivity concerns in a challenging macroeconomic environment.

As Jassy has made abundantly clear, remote working no longer fits in with his vision of the company. And with major companies like Disney, Meta, and Starbucks following suit, it's likely we're going to see a lot more RTO mandates going forward.

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Written by:
Isobel O'Sullivan (BSc) is a senior writer at with over four years of experience covering business and technology news. Since studying Digital Anthropology at University College London (UCL), she’s been a regular contributor to Market Finance’s blog and has also worked as a freelance tech researcher. Isobel’s always up to date with the topics in employment and data security and has a specialist focus on POS and VoIP systems.
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