Amazon cranks up pressure on return-to-office mandate mutineers

Amazon has reportedly warned its staff that their chances of a promotion will be affected if they don’t stop working remotely all the time.

According to Fortune magazine, back in February, the company warned its employees that, starting in May, they’d be expected to be in the office at least three days per week. When May arrived, employees staged a walkout to protest.

At the time, Amazon dismissed the dissenters.

“We’re always listening and will continue to do so, but we’re happy with how the first month of having more people back in the office has been,” they said in a statement.

Fast-forward to last week, when Amazon finally pushed back forcefully by adding a new staff rule stating that promotions for employees who don’t show up to the office at least three days per week will be blocked unless a VP approves of it.

The new policy reads as follows: “Managers own the promotion process, which means it is their responsibility to support your growth through regular conversations and stretch assignments, and to complete all required inputs for a promotion. If your role is expected to work from the office 3+ days a week and you are not in compliance, your manager will be made aware and VP approval will be required.”

“Promotions are one of the many ways we support employees’ growth and development, and there are a variety of factors we consider when determining an employee’s readiness for the next level,” Amazon spokesperson Rob Munoz told Fortune.

“Like any company, we expect employees who are being considered for promotion to be in compliance with company guidelines and policies,” he added.

But there’s more. Amazon employees who refuse to stop working remotely may also be fired.

“Amazon is now giving managers leeway to effectively fire employees who fail to meet the company’s three-times-a-week, return-to-office mandate,” Insider reported in October.

“That’s according to updated global manager guidance on Amazon’s return-to-office policy obtained by Insider. Amazon shared the guidelines and manager talking points through an internal portal earlier this week,” the reporting continued.

The guidelines reportedly state that the manager should first speak privately with the employee. If that fails to work, the manager is then authorized to take it up a notch.

“If the employee does not demonstrate immediate and sustained attendance after the first conversation, managers should then conduct a follow-up discussion within a reasonable time frame (depending on the employee situation, ~1-2 weeks),” the guidelines read.

“This conversation will 1) reinforce that return to office 3+ days a week is a requirement of their job, and 2) explain that continued non-compliance without a legitimate reason may lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of your employment,” they continue.

It’s not yet clear how Amazon employees will respond to these massive changes. Insider notes that in March, 30,000 employees signed a petition pushing back on the remote mandate.

“In the petition, Amazon employees added internal data supporting continued remote work and dozens of comments explaining why they oppose the change,” according to Insider.

“A companywide survey from last year, for example, showed an overwhelming 87% of employees preferring 1 to 2 days per week or less time in the office, with the rest choosing mostly in-office work. Remote work trumped in-office work across most areas, including ‘ability to focus,’ ‘productivity,’ and ‘innovation/creativity,’ among others, the survey results showed.”

Responding to the employees’ pushback (both the petition and the walk out), quite a few critics scoffed at them for being so “spoiled.”


Vivek Saxena


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