Amazon has become the latest company to put its foot down on remote work, with an announcement that it expects its staff to come back to the office for a mandatory three days a week.
Despite the huge increase in remote work since the pandemic, in the last few months we have seen many companies renege on their promise to let staff work from home, including Disney, Tesla and Activision.
The news is unlikely to be welcomed by Amazon staff, who have just been through a period of mass layoffs.
Amazon CEO Sees Nothing but Benefits in Return to Office
The call to return to the office came from Amazon CEO, Andy Jassy, who posted a message on the official company blog, declaring that staff must now attend physical Amazon premises at least three times a week.
In the blog post, Jassy mentions the benefits he sees in returning to the office, including better collaboration opportunities, teams being better connected when working face to face, and it being easier to learn in person.
In the post, Jassy does acknowledge that the transition back to the office won't be perfect, and there there will be a period of adjustment. The return to office date has been set as the 1st of May.
Some roles that were already fully remote before the pandemic, such as customer support and sales, have been confirmed to stay this way, although Amazon states that it expects this positions to be a very small minority.
“I know that for some employees, adjusting again to a new way of working will take some time. But I’m very optimistic about the positive impact this will have in how we serve and invent on behalf of customers, as well as on the growth and success of our employees.” – Amazon CEO, Andy Jassy
Amazon Follows Tesla, Disney and Others
We've seen two trends emerging in the last few months in tech – huge layoffs, and the call to return to the office. Just this week, Activision Blizzard, the massive games company on the bring of a Microsoft merger, announced that it was putting an end to remote work.
One of the first companies to demand that workers return to the office was Tesla, perhaps not too surprising given Elon Musk's distaste for remote work. Shortly after taking over Twitter last year, and making huge redundancies, Musk also insisted that Twitter staff must return to the office too. That is of course, where they had an office to return to. Indian-based staff were actually told they could work from home this week, but only because the company had shuttered its offices there.
Another huge company that has made the shift back to the office recently is Disney. CEO Bob Iger's thoughts on the matter echo Jassy's somewhat, citing that creativity suffers when workers aren't collaborating in person.
Is This the End for Remote Work?
We've seen many alarming headlines over the last few months of companies telling staff to return to the office, with a number of high profile companies making the case for in-person working. However, there are many companies that still offer a robust remote work policy.
There are also huge benefits to remote work. One study has shown that the average US remote worker not only saves 55 minutes a day, but also works longer, putting more time into their job that would likely have been wasted on the commute. Not only that, but there is also evidence to suggest that remote workers live longer.
There are also organizations that are still introducing remote work, despite being steadfastly against it previously. Just this week, New York City mayor Eric Adams announced that he was to pilot a remote work scheme for city employees.
There is also hard evidence that employees like the option to work remotely, even going so far as to accept a lower pay check for the privilege. If companies continue to demand that staff come back to the office with more and more regularity, they might just find their workforce leaving for more open-minded employers.