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Amazon CEO tells staff ‘it’s probably not going to work out’ unless they visit office three days a week

Amazon’s CEO has told workers “it’s probably not going to work out” for them at the tech company unless they were prepared to come into the office at least three days a week.

Andy Jassy made the statement in a meeting where he expressed his frustration that some employees were not coming in three days a week, despite that now being Amazon’s official policy.

He said: “It’s past the time to disagree and commit. If you can’t disagree and commit … it’s probably not going to work out for you at Amazon because we are going back to the office at least three days a week.”

The comments, reported by news website Insider, came as major tech firms including Google and Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta have ordered staff back to their desks for the majority of the working week.

Amazon had instructed its corporate employees to return to the office three times a week starting in May, ripping up previous policies that allowed individual teams to decide whether colleagues needed to come into the office or not. Through an announcement on the company’s blog, Jassy said the leadership team had decided that it was better for Amazon’s culture, and easier to learn from each other and collaborate more effectively, when they were in the office together.

Other tech firms are also cracking down on working from home, including video call company Zoom, one of the major beneficiaries of the lockdown-related shift in work culture. The US firm, which had a surge in popularity due to government work-from-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic, has told staff to come in twice a week – although the policy only applies to people who live within 50 miles of the office.

Google now requires most employees to come in at least three days a week, with an executive at the online search firm stating that “there’s just no substitute for coming together in person”.

Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, has reportedly told employees who do not work from home permanently to be at the office three days a week from next month. An online message to employees acknowledged that coming in meant spending time commuting and “less personal flexibility”, but being at your office desk supported collaboration and produced “energy”.

The CEO of X, Elon Musk, has ordered all employees at the business formerly known as Twitter to be in the office unless they had a specific exemption.

Disney has also told workers to come back, with the media and entertainment conglomerate telling employees who were working from home in January this year to return to the office four days a week.

The row-back on remote working by major tech firms follows a series of announcements about major job cuts, with management acknowledging they had over-expanded during the pandemic. More than 230,000 workers at tech firms around the world have been laid off this year according to a redundancy-tracking web site, layoffs.fyi, compared with 165,00 the year before.

Amazon said in March it would lay off an additional 9,000 employees, on top of the 18,000 roles it had announced it was cutting in January. Amazon employs 1.5 million people worldwide.

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Jassy’s “past the time to disagree” comment appeared to allude to significant internal opposition against the tougher stance on home working. Almost 30,000 Amazon workers signed an internal petition against the return-to-office mandate in May.

The petition read: “Amazon’s top-down, one-size-fits-all RTO [return-to-office] mandate undermines the diverse, accessible future that we want to be a part of.”

Amazon employees also participated in a worldwide walkout, organised by Amazon Employees for Climate Justice and a remote work advocacy group. The walkout was a protest against the company’s slow progress on climate goals and the return-to-office mandate.

This month, some Amazon workers in the US reported being tracked and penalised for not spending sufficient time in the company’s offices, an email sent to employees revealed.

The emails received by employees noted that staff members were “not currently meeting our expectation of joining your colleagues in the office at least three days a week”, according to the Financial Times.

Amazon declined to comment.

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