A reception desk at Amazon’s offices in downtown Seattle, Washington.
Glen Chapman | AFP | Getty Images
Amazon employees on Tuesday continued to sound off about CEO Andy Jassy’s recently announced mandate to return to the office, including spamming an internal website with messages conveying their opposition to the new policy.
A group of tech workers created a Slack channel and devised an internal poll pushing back on the mandate, which requires them to be back in the office at least three days a week beginning May 1. The petition calls on Jassy and Amazon’s executive team, known as the S-Team, to suspend the mandate, just days after it was notified.
The group has since amassed 16,000 members and about 5,000 employees have signed the petition as of Tuesday evening.
Employee dissatisfaction with the assignment spilled over to the e-tailer’s internal employee news feed, called Inside Amazon, where workers repeatedly commented on a recording of Jassy’s latest all-hands meeting.
“By arbitrarily forcing a return to the office without providing data to support it and despite clear evidence that it’s the wrong decision for employees, Amazon has failed in its role as the world’s best employer,” according to screenshots seen by CNBC. “I believe this decision will be detrimental to our business and goes against the way we make decisions at Amazon.”
Employees began leaving those comments after Amazon barred staff from “liking” or commenting on Jassy’s memo announcing the mandate to return to the office, according to one employee, who asked to remain anonymous. Each comment shows the poster’s identity and role at the company.
Staff who posted in the Slack channel said they were caught off guard by the announcement. Many expressed frustration that they would have to find child care arrangements, caregivers for aging parents, or potentially move to be within commuting distance of the office.
One worker said they had recently leased a car that with an annual limit of 16,000 miles provided telecommuting was still an option; if they have to come into the office at least three days a week, they will exceed that limit.
Others took the company’s previous flexible working position as an opportunity to move outside major cities to find cheaper housing and are now worried about their commute.
An employee invited Jassy to the Slack channel, prompting staff to encourage their colleagues to take responsibility and avoid creating too much of a stir, as it could cause the company to close the channel.
Many employees put the phrase “Remote Advocacy” into their Slack status to show their support for the petition.
In addition to conveying their concerns about the mandate, the petition also presents a number of data points and studies that highlight the benefits of remote work, such as improved productivity and the ability to attract and retain top talent.
Previously, Amazon had left it up to individual managers to decide how often their teams would need to come into the office. Jassy had also embraced remote and hybrid working, although he recognized Amazon was in a “stage of experimenting, learning and adapting” and that the company’s return to the office could change.
Last week, Jassy realized that calling employees back to the office would present some challenges.
“We know it won’t be perfect at first, but the office experience will steadily improve over the coming months (and years) as our real estate and facilities teams iron out the kinks and ultimately continue to evolve the way we want our offices to created to capture the new ways we want to work,” Jassy wrote in a memo announce the mandate.
Several tech companies have returned to in-person work as the pandemic eases. Google and Apple has required some of its employees to return to the office since last year, while Disney in January began to demand hybrid employees to be in the office four days a week.