Thousands of Amazon Staff Outraged at Return-to-Office Policy

Amazon staff have started a Slack channel to air their grievances, while thousands have signed a petition opposing the plans.

Amazon employees unhappy with the company’s return-to-office mandate have started a petition in an attempt to stop the planned change to their working arrangements from being enforced.

Starting May 1, 2023, Amazon employees will have to come into the office at least three days a week – but those opposed to the new plans will hope they can coax the board into reneging before the point of no return.

With lots of companies now offering remote working roles and video conferencing software more advanced than ever, it’s hardly a surprise that the new mandate hasn’t gone down well with Amazon’s workforce.

Amazon Employees Incensed

Around 5,000 Amazon employees have now signed a petition calling for Amazon’s return-to-office mandate to be scrapped, according to recent reports.

The petition argues that the data clearly shows employees prefer to work either fully remotely or come into the office just one or two days a week, and also noted research charting increases in productivity in remote working environments.

Arguments relating to the effect the new policy will have on many workers’ now-established routines and general work-life balance were also made, while the pointlessness of coming into offices to have virtual meetings was highlighted.

Breakaway Slack Channel Created

16,000 staff on the tech giant’s payroll are now part of a breakaway Slack channel where the petition was drafted, which was initially set up for employees to share concerns regarding the new policy.

Amazon actually prevented employees from engaging with CEO Andy Jassy’s initial internal announcement – they were unable to like or comment on it – so instead, they took to “Inside Amazon”, the company’s newsfeed, to air their frustrations.

“By arbitrarily forcing return-to-office without providing data to support it and despite clear evidence that it is the wrong decision for employees, Amazon has failed its role as earth’s best employer,” one comment seen by CNBC says. “I believe this decision will be detrimental to our business and is antithetical to how we make decisions at Amazon.”

Is the Tide Changing on Remote Work?

When companies as influential as Amazon enforce return-to-office mandates like this, the rest of the tech industry often sits up and takes notice. But whether they will follow suit is another question entirely.

Throughout the last three years, there’s been a myriad of surveys, reports, and datasets that suggest that remote work does not affect productivity in the way many bosses think it does, and can be a powerful tool for retaining top talent.

However, as is the case with Amazon, it’s often members of the C-suite making the final decisions on company-wide policies. And of course, for many teams, there are advantages to being in the same physical space as one another. It used to be impossible to replicate seamless, face-to-face collaboration, however, but video conferencing software has closed the gap in recent years.

Determining what your remote working policy should entail is a big decision for any company – but involving your employees more in the process, and being flexible, will ensure you don’t end up with an amazon-style revolt on your hands.

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Written by:
Aaron Drapkin is's Content Manager. He has been researching and writing about technology, politics, and society in print and online publications since graduating with a Philosophy degree from the University of Bristol six years ago. Aaron's focus areas include VPNs, cybersecurity, AI and project management software. He has been quoted in the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Computer Weekly, Cybernews, Lifewire, HR News and the Silicon Republic speaking on various privacy and cybersecurity issues, and has articles published in Wired, Vice, Metro, ProPrivacy, The Week, and covering a wide range of topics.
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