A line is drawn in the sand, or rather in Slack. on February 17, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, who spoke about the importance of personal collaboration, announced that employees are expected to return to the office three days a week starting in May. The plan was received with mixed emotions by Amazonians, who like most of America do not see eye-to-eye on the issue of remote vs hybrid vs in-office work.
After Jassy’s announcement, nearly 28,000 employees joined a Slack channel called “Remote Advocacy,” according to information obtained from Inside. Shortly after, a separate, though much smaller, group of Amazon people formed a rival Slack channel called “Think Big,” which supports Jassy’s RTO plan, reports said. Inside.
With only 750 people in the “Think Big” Slack channel so far, it’s not a battle like a David and Goliath story, when David is backed by a billionaire CEO. Looking inside the channel through screenshots, Insider found that one of the earliest messages was a link to a 2021 Harvard Business Review article which reads very closely to Jassy’s blog post announcing the new RTO plan, as it mentions the claimed benefits of personalized work such as culture, collaboration, and purpose.
Some employees who are part of “Think Big” talk about how exciting it is to work in the office, and they are happy to see their co-workers. Another said an RTO would make everyone more productive, while also suggesting a 4-day work week.
After a couple of hard quarters and a round of dismissal, Amazon is no longer the goliath it once was. An employee in favor of the RTO connected the company’s difficult times to the increase in remote work, noting that the increase in Amazon’s stock price in the three years before the pandemic was higher than today while people work from home. While there may not be a direct link between Amazon’s current situation and its employees working from home, Jassy is likely feeling the pressure to improve share prices and regain control. Amazon did not immediately respond luckThis is a request for comment.
Meanwhile, another channel titled “Remote Advocacy” is making waves. An internal poll of the channel showed that the majority (80%) will look for a new job if the new hybrid policy is completed, as members mentioned problems such as making a long trip after taking time away from remote work, and predicting things will be chaotic at Amazon as plans are implemented.
There is also an employee petition to allow teams to decide for themselves where they want to work. The signatories pushed back against Jassy’s claims presenting six counter points. They note that remote work increases worker productivity, employees prefer location flexibility, and office work affects parents, minorities, and individuals with disabilities. The petition also argues that remote work can improve hiring and development, allow the company to reduce costs, and improve the work-life balance of employees.
Jassy admitted in his memo that the RTO was “not perfect in the first place.” Many companies have struggled to get their employees back into the office even with a hybrid schedule, but there has been steady progress since January, with occupancy hovering around 50% according to Castle Systems.
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