Amazon changed direction Thursday after employees objected to returning to company offices full time once COVID-19 restrictions are dropped. An announcement in March had indicated Amazon planned to restore its "office-centric culture" by this fall. Competitors might have gotten the online giant's attention when they seemed to be playing off that unhappiness in recruiting. "Your company doesn't embrace remote work or hybrid working?" a Twitter executive said on LinkedIn the day after Amazon's statement. "Leave them in 2020, we're hiring." On Thursday, Amazon told employees that corporate and tech workers will be allowed to work from home two days a week, the Seattle Times reports. They also can choose to work remotely four full weeks a year.
The change brings Amazon closer to other tech companies' policies. Facebook and Microsoft have both said most workers can choose to stay remote, though Apple said it's bringing people back to its offices three days a week. Amazon seemed to acknowledge the effect of employee reactions. A memo to workers said the company is "learning and evolving as we go," per CNBC, a process that will continue as employees weigh in on the policy. Seattle businesses are paying a price for the new arrangements. A survey by a downtown association found 80% of the 175,000 people who worked in offices there have not returned, per ABC. More than 450 downtown retailers, restaurants, and the like have closed permanently since the pandemic began, the survey showed. (Read more Amazon.com stories.)