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Amazon To Mandate 3 Days A Week Of Office Work

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy in 2016, when he was head of Amazon Web Services.

The company that pioneered two-day shipping is putting its foot down to require three-day-a-week office work.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy told the company’s more than 1.5 million employees worldwide in a memo Friday that he will start requiring them to report in person to Amazon offices at least three days per week. The change is to take effect May 1, Jassy said.

To this point, Amazon has let managers dictate their teams' office work policies. But in the Friday memo, Jassy wrote that Amazon’s inner circle of executives, what it calls its S-Team, had observed teams “over a meaningful period of time” that worked remotely all the time, teams that had some form of hybrid schedule and those that were fully in the office and concluded that the more employees were physically together, the better it would be for Amazon’s business and culture. 

“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,” Jassy wrote. “It’s especially true for new people (and we’ve hired a lot of people in the pandemic); but it’s also true for people of all tenures at Amazon. Our culture has been one of the most critical parts of our success the first 27 years, and I expect it will be in our next 27+ years as well. Strengthening it further is a top priority for the s-team and me.”

Jassy also said coming back to the office would improve teamwork, internal communications, help outside businesses around where Amazon's offices are located thrive, and encourage further invention and innovation. The memo came weeks after Amazon announced it would be laying off some 18,000 employees this year.

“Some of the best inventions have had their breakthrough moments from people staying behind in a meeting and working through ideas on a whiteboard or walking back to an office together on the way back from the meeting or just popping by a teammate’s office later that day with another thought,” Jassy wrote. “Invention is often sloppy. It wanders and meanders and marinates. Serendipitous interactions help it, and there are more of those in-person than virtually.”

For the past two years, corporate executives and their employees have been playing a game of tug of war on how often people should physically report to offices, leading to many companies instituting a permanent hybrid work policy. But some observers believe those policies will eventually go away, despite polls showing workers prefer working from home or other remote locations. 

Amazon is far from the only large employer to announce a new return-to-office mandate in recent months. Last month, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz began to require corporate employees to show up to the headquarters and regional offices at least three days a week. The Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger also instituted a four-day-a-week office policy last month. 

A shift in return-to-office policies has come, in many cases, in conjunction with mass layoffs. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who had previously told employees they could work from anywhere, called most workers back multiple days a week last year, soon after announcing a large layoff — similar to Jassy's latest salvo.

Related Topics: Amazon, Return to office, Andy Jassy