Amazon staffers aren't happy about the ecommerce giant's backtrack on offering remote work flexibility, and a top executive's latest comments have made the matter worse.
According to SVP of Amazon Video and Studios Mike Hopkins, he has “no data either way” to explain why the company is mandating that its employees resume in-office work.
Amazon's known for its data-driven decision making process, and the apparent contradiction inherent in making a big decision without data supporting it is what's upsetting many laborers at the huge tech company.
Is Amazon's RTO Mandate Unsupported by the Data? One Executive Says So.
Hopkins' statements emerged during an internal staff meeting recently, in which he was asked if he had any data to share about Amazon's return-to-office mandate.
Hopkins said he had “no data either way” regarding the sweeping decision.
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The new mandate, revealed last February, will push most employees back to the office at least three days a week. It's a reversal of the company's promise from as recent as 2022 that it would not force employees back into the physical office.
Hopkins did indicate some reasons for removing flexible work options, saying that CEO Andy Jassy and other executives all believe”we just do our best work when we're together.” He also, according to journalism from Insider, cited a leadership principle that entreats Amazon staffers to “have backbone, and disagree and commit” — with the implication being that now is a time to commit, rather than disagree.
The Data Might Say The Opposite
The data does exist, but Amazon's executives may not like what it says in this instance. We've seen plenty of studies that appear to indicate that workers who work remotely, or have the option to do so, tend to be both happier and more productive.
One of Tech.co's own surveys found that 47% of businesses notice increased productivity levels amongst employees who work remotely. Other studies found a hike in optimism about work from those who worked at home (89%) when compared to those at the office (77%).
One Upwork report found that 32.2% of hiring managers say that productivity has increased since remote work policies have started.
Companies Continue the Push for In-Office Work
There are plenty of reasons why many companies don't always follow the data when making decisions. This may be due to short-term quarterly profits distracting from long-term sustainability, or in the case of a return to office, it may be because they feel a loss of control over their employees when they don't have eyes on them all the time, or a need to justify costly long-term office building leases.
Whatever the case, many major companies are attempting to push employees back into their office in 2023.
We're tracking the biggest changes in this area across two big articles: Companies That Have Ended Fully Remote Work in 2023, and Companies That Offer Remote Work From Home Jobs in 2023
Amazon's workers have composed an internal petition, but so far it seems that Amazon is committing to a data-less decision, regardless of its employees' disagreements.