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Amazon demands a return to the office, but will anyone come?

The tech giant states most everyone will need to do three days in the office starting in May, but not everyone is on board.

March 21st 2023

by Andy Didorosi

in Leadership & Management, People & Culture

Amazon, that bookseller that does all the other stuff now too, just put a ten ton foot down on the scale towards “Return to Office.”

Let’s get you caught up:

  1. About a month ago Amazon announced that most employees had to work out of a physical Amazon office at least 3 days a week.
  2. In response, over 30,000 Amazon employees signed a petition to demand the reversal of the new Return to Office (RTO) policy.
  3. Amazon’s response last week? NAH.

Despite the petition, Amazon stated they were upholding their RTO policy with only very rare exceptions approved by senior leadership.

This is big. Leadership and employees at Amazon have been at an RTO standoff for just over a year now. Remote employees have a great case for staying remote permanently since many employees hired in as remote in the first place without a plan to return to office and many employees don’t live within commuting distance of an active office.

So why is Amazon pushing so hard for this? Their main claim is “culture.” That to be at an IRL office is to absorb the Amazon way. This may happen through osmosis, but culture can be grown remotely too.

A few suppose the real reason is this: Amazon needs to shed some employee numbers before the continuing tech recession and mandating RTO they know can’t be fulfilled is a cheap if not dirty way to do it. Much like Tunnel Car Rocket Guy mandated a hasty RTO at Twitter to thin the ranks quickly, so may go the mighty Amazon and with it a thousand copycats.

In response to the response, some Amazon engineers are canceling their Prime accounts with some boycotting Amazon purchases. There is also potential talk of unionization which Amazon is on record of being vehemently against.

We’ll stay tuned to see how it goes. The only thing known for sure is that sparks will fly somehow, somewhere. Probably.

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