Amazon employees are urging CEO Andy Jassy to withdraw the return mandate

The Amazon Spheres, part of the Amazon headquarters campus, right, in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle, Washington, U.S., on Sunday, October 24, 2021.

Chona Kasinger | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A group of Amazon employees are urging CEO Andy Jassy to reconsider a recent return mandate.

Last week, Jassy announced that Amazon would require the company’s staff to spend at least three days a week in the office starting May 1. , determined that it would be easier for employees to personally collaborate and invent together, while strengthening the company culture.

The move marks a shift from Amazon’s previous policy, last updated in October 2021, which left it up to managers to decide how often their teams should be in the office. Since then, there has been a mix of full-remote and hybrid work among Amazon’s white-collar workers.

Staffers created a Slack channel on Friday to advocate for remote work and share their concerns about the new return policy, according to screenshots viewed by CNBC. Nearly 14,000 employees had joined the Slack channel by Tuesday morning.

The employees also drafted a petition, addressed to Jassy and the S team, calling for leadership to drop the new policy, saying it “contradicts” Amazon’s positions on diversity and inclusion, affordable housing , sustainability and focus on being “Earth’s Best Employer.”

“We, the undersigned, call on Amazon to protect its role and status as a global retail and technology leader by immediately canceling the RTO policy and issuing a new policy that allows employees to work remotely or more flexibly, if they choose to do so if their team and position allow it,” read a draft of the petition, previously reported by Business Insider.

An Amazon spokesperson pointed back to Jassy’s blog post about guidance for returning to the office.

The employees also pointed to Jassy’s previous statements about plans for returning to the office, saying there is no “one-size-fits-all approach to how each team works best” and touting the benefits of remote working.

“Many employees trusted these statements and planned a life where their employer would not force them to return to the office,” reads a draft of the petition. “The RTO mandate has destroyed their trust in Amazon’s leaders.”

Employees who moved or were hired for an outside position during the pandemic are concerned about how the new policy will affect them, said one employee who asked to remain anonymous. Amazon’s workforce has skyrocketed over the past three years, and it’s been hiring more employees outside of key tech hubs like Seattle, New York, and Northern California as it embraced a more distributed workforce.

Amazon didn’t specify whether remote workers will be asked to move, other than Jassy noting that there will be “a small minority” of exceptions to the new policy.

The petition cites internal data showing that a significant portion of employees prefer to work completely remotely with the option of monthly office synchronization, or prefer to work in the office for one to two days a week at most. It also references research showing that remote work increases productivity and enables companies like Amazon to reduce costs and attract and retain top talent.

It also notes that a return to primarily personal work can affect workers’ work-life balance, particularly harming parents, minorities, carers and people with disabilities. Employees also questioned Amazon’s rationale of forcing in-person work in all cases. For example, some employees who are part of global teams only come to the office to continue holding virtual meetings, and they may not even have a colleague in the office, the petition states.

WATCH: Andy Jassy on the benefits of remote working





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