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

Chona Kasinger | Bloomberg | Getty Images

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

On Friday, Jassy notified Amazon would require company employees to spend at least three days a week in the office starting May 1. Jassy said he and Amazon’s management team, known as the S-team, decided it would be easier for employees to collaborate and invent together in person and that working in person would strengthen the company’s culture.

The move marks a shift from Amazon’s pandemic-era policy, last updated in October 2021, leaving it up to managers to decide how often their teams needed to be in the office. Since then, there has been a mix of fully remote and hybrid work among Amazon’s employees.

Staff on Friday created a Slack channel to advocate for remote work and share their concerns about the new return-to-work 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, directed at Jassy and the S team, calling on management to drop the new policy, saying it “goes against” Amazon’s positions on diversity and inclusion, affordable housing, sustainability and a focus on being the “The best employer on earth.”

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

An Amazon spokesperson referred to Jassy’s blog posts on guidance for returning to the office.

The employees also pointed to Jassy’s earlier statements about plans to return to the office, there he said there is no “one-size-fits-all approach to how each team works best” and praised the benefits of distance work.

“Many employees relied on these statements and planned for a life where their employer would not force them to return to the office,” a draft of the petition reads. “The RTO mandate shattered their confidence in Amazon’s leaders.”

Employees who relocated during the pandemic or were hired for a remote role are worried about how the new policy will affect them, according to one employee, who asked to remain anonymous. Amazon’s headcount grew over the past three years, hiring more workers outside its key tech hubs like Seattle, New York and Northern California as it embraced a more distributed workforce.

Amazon has not addressed whether remote workers will be asked to relocate, except that Jassy notes 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 entirely remotely with the option of a monthly in-office sync, or prefer to work in the office no more than one to two days per week. It also points to research that shows telecommuting increases productivity and allows companies like Amazon to cut costs and attract and retain top talent.

It also notes that a return to primarily personal work may affect employees’ work-life balance, and may particularly harm parents, minorities, caregivers, and people with disabilities. Employees also questioned Amazon’s logic behind forcing in-person work anyway. For example, some employees who are part of global teams will come into the office only to continue having virtual meetings, and they may not even have a colleague in their office, the petition says.

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