Amazon CEO sends stark warning to remote workers

Resistance is futile. This seems to be the message of Andy Jassy, Amazon’s chief executive, who has threatened to fire employees who do not want to return to the office for three days a week.

Like most other major US tech companies, Amazon had allowed employees to work remotely during the coronavirus pandemic, but has been taking steps in returning workers to the offices.

And that’s not all of it. Last month, Amazon confirmed that it was asking some corporate workers to relocate to other cities as part of its return-to-office policy. It took effect on May 1st.

However, thousands of employees are still resisting the directive that most of them now have to work on site for at least three days a week. 30,000 of them called the company to reconsider in a petition, and many who disagree with the mandate are defiant and still working remotely.

Jassy, who has rejected the petition outright, has now lost patience, it seems. According to Insider, in an internal meeting earlier in August, the Amazon CEO told employees who don’t want to return to the office that it’s “not going to work out for you.”

“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," said Jassy.

Amazon declared earlier that any employee who doesn’t comply with the policy and has nor right to an exception would be forced into a “voluntary resignation.”

Jassy didn’t provide any data for his decision to push workers back to the office, Insider said. “It’s past the time to disagree and commit,” Jassy allegedly said and added that he had spoken to dozens of CEOs of other companies, and that virtually all of them preferred bringing employees back to the office.

It’s interesting to note that back in 2021, when Amazon had just started formulating a return-to-office plan, Jassy said in a blog post that teams would be able to decide themselves whether to come back or not.

“We expect that there will be teams that continue working mostly remotely, others that will work some combination of remotely and in the office, and still others that will decide customers are best served having the team work mostly in the office,” Jassy wrote.

However, by February 2023, his views had changed, saying that employees should go back to being in the office together at least three days a week – “the majority of the time.”

“It’s easier to learn, model, practice, and strengthen our culture when we’re in the office together most of the time and surrounded by our colleagues. It’s especially true for new people, and we hired a lot of people in the pandemic,” said Jassy in a post shared with Amazon workers worldwide.

Earlier this year, Amazon, which employs more than 1.5 million people worldwide, announced that it was laying off 27,000 workers as part of a broad cost-cutting push.

A survey released this year by the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics found that from August to September 2022, 72.5 percent of establishments had little or no telework, up from 60.1 percent in July through September 2021.

In addition, the percentage of establishments with some, but not all, employees teleworking was 16.4 percent last year, down from 29.8 percent in 2021.

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