Amazon Rebuffs Pleas From 30K Workers to Stay Remote

HR chief says that, despite petition, return-to-office plan will continue as planned, starting May 1
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2023 2:32 PM CDT
Amazon Rebuffs Pleas From 30K Workers to Stay Remote
An Amazon logo appears on a delivery van Oct. 1, 2020, in Boston.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Last month, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy shared a letter with staff announcing the company's intent to bring all employees back into the office at least three days a week, starting May 1. Many workers weren't happy about that—at least 30,000 of them (10% of Amazon's total corporate workforce) signed a petition asking Amazon bigwigs to reconsider. The employees cited research on all the benefits of telecommuting, including productivity boosts, economic savings, and a better work-life balance. The petition was presented to management, but on Wednesday, employees got an official rebuff from Amazon's top HR exec, Beth Galetti, senior VP of people experience and technology, per Insider.

"Given the large size of our workforce and our wide range of businesses and customers, we recognize this transition may take time, but we are confident it will result in long-term benefits to increasing our ability to deliver for our customers, bolstering our culture, and growing and developing employees," Galetti wrote, indicating the letter had been shared with Jassy's team and that the company would still be forging ahead with its return-to-office plan. An Amazon rep told Insider that the reasons for doing so could be found in Jassy's original note from February, in which he laid out all of the pro-RTO observations made by the company during the pandemic, including that "collaborating and inventing is easier and more effective when we're in person."

Insider notes that employees who'd fought to continue their remote work setups were bummed out over Galetti's message and the company's ultimate decision, especially since morale has been shaky after 27,000 layoffs so far in 2023. "I'm collapsing here. I'm sorry I feel like a total failure," one worker wrote on the company's Slack channel. "Come in and work. Do as you're told. I'm crying as my family prepares a meal." Another noted: "I recovered from alcoholism by [working from home] and now I don't know." Insider also features two recent anonymous essays from current Amazon employees over the RTO hubbub: one who fears their productivity and work-life balance will suffer once they're forced back into the office, and another who wanted to go back but is now quitting because they don't think the RTO plan is strong enough. (More Amazon stories.)

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