Amazon is unfazed by remote workers protesting the return-to-office mandate

Amazon employees gather during a strike protest against the back-to-office mandate, recent layoffs, and the company’s environmental impact outside its Seattle headquarters on Wednesday. JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon employees staged a protest this week against the company’s mandate to return to the office. The tech giant doesn’t seem bothered by that.

“We’re always listening and will continue to do so, but we’re pleased with how the first month has been that more people are back in the office,” said Amazon spokesperson Brad Glaser. luck.

In February, CEO Andy Jassy sent out a memo saying remote workers must return to the office on May 1. “We should be back in the office together most of the time (at least three days a week),” he wrote.

Pamela Hayter, an employee, told workers gathered to strike Wednesday that her “heart just dropped” when she read the ad “because I immediately knew the negative impact it was going to have on my family.”

She explained that working from home has allowed her to spend more time with her family than she thought possible before the pandemic.

“We don’t have to spend hours of our lives in traffic, hours of our lives in an office building,” she told those gathered on Wednesday.

Glaser said luck that since the return-to-office mandate went into effect “there’s more energy, collaboration, and communication happening, and we’ve heard that from a lot of the employees and companies that surround our offices.”

Earlier this year, Hayter started an internal Slack channel where workers can express their support for remote working. She described the channel as the most tangible expression of employee discontent in Amazon history during her speech.

Former Slack CEO Stuart Butterfield recently commented on such “dodging” while speaking to Bloomberg. a lot Podcast. “The superpower of people being able to have conversations at work will include conversations that managers sometimes wish they didn’t,” he said.

But, he added, amid big tech layoffs and economic uncertainty, people are now “more concerned about job security, so there’s a little — and I’m not saying that’s a good thing, necessarily — but less labor regulation happening in Slack than there might be.” two years ago “.

Amazon downplayed attendance at the headquarters strike, putting the crowd at 300 (organizers put the number higher) and noting that it has 65,000 corporate and technology employees in the Puget Sound region, and 350,000 globally. Employees protesting the company’s environmental impact and recent layoffs were part of the strike.

Gacy is not alone in demanding that employees start working in the office again. Bob Iger at Disney, Howard Schultz at Starbucks, and Robert Thompson at News Corp. are among many others. Last month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk called working from home a moral error, arguing that the “laptop class” was unfair in claiming privileges that other people, like service workers or factory employees, couldn’t enjoy.

“I definitely think one of the tech industry’s worst mistakes in a long time is that everybody could walk away completely forever… I would say the experiment on that is over,” OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said at the Stripe conference last month.

Meanwhile, at rival Uber Lyft, new CEO David Risher recently ordered remote workers back into the office a day after it laid off more than 1,000 employees, or about 26% of the workforce.

In March, Amazon announced that 9,000 employees would be let go, adding to the 18,000 jobs laid off earlier this year and last November.

Despite mandates to return to office, large swathes of office blocks across the country remain partially empty. Shark tank Superstar and real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran agreed with Musk This week’s warning That “commercial real estate is melting fast.”

“Nobody really thinks they’re going to move to the corner. People are staying at home,” Corcoran told Fox Business Network. Claman countdown.

Many remote workers confirm that working from home is a good thing in terms of productivity. In a recent Pew Research survey, 56% of respondents said working from home helps them get work done and meet deadlines, while 37% said it doesn’t help or hurt.

“We can be productive, customers are obsessed, we can do our good job, we can make a difference, and it doesn’t have to be in an office building,” Hayter said on strike this week.

However, Amazon sticks to its mandate.

“We understand it will take time to get acclimated back to working in the office more,” Glaser said. “There are a lot of teams in the company working hard to make this transition as smooth as possible for employees.”

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