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In brief: Although many companies have implemented return-to-work mandates, few have seen quite as much pushback from employees as Amazon. And a new policy could intensify the anger further: the tech giant will require some remote corporate workers to relocate to other cities.
Bloomberg writes that the relocation plan is part of Amazon's return-to-work policy, which requires corporate employees to be in the office for three days per week.
A person familiar with the matter said who will be relocated and when is to be decided at the department level, and Amazon has yet to determine how many workers will be affected. Other reports claim that select employees in smaller offices are being asked to move to main offices located in bigger cities.
The anonymous sources added that some staff who were hired or moved during the pandemic will have to relocate closer to large offices to meet the 3-day requirement.
Amazon spokesperson Brad Glasser said the company will provide relocation benefits to those asked to move and will consider requests for exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
"There's more energy, collaboration, and connections happening since we've been working together at least three days per week, and we've heard this from lots of employees and the businesses that surround our offices," Glasser said. "We continue to look at the best ways to bring more teams together in the same locations, and we'll communicate directly with employees as we make decisions that affect them."
Amazon workers have spoken out against the return-to-work mandate since it was introduced in February. It led to thousands of staff joining a Slack channel and starting a petition, despite one senior executive suggesting, "let's not grab our torches and pitchforks quite yet." Around 30,000 signed the petition, which listed the benefits of home work, but Amazon ignored the pleas.
More discontent was on show in June when two employee groups staged a corporate walkout - streamed on Twitter - protesting the return-to-work mandate, climate goals, and layoffs. In the case of those cutbacks, the company has slashed more jobs than any other tech business: 27,000 since November.
"I'm not suited for in-office work," said Church Hindley, a quality assurance engineer, at the time of the walkout. "I deal with depression and anxiety and I was able to get off my anxiety medication and start living my life."
Amazon claims that it is easier to learn, model, practice, and strengthen its culture when employees are in the office together. It also says traditional working practices make collaborating and inventing easier, and learning from colleagues is better done in person.
"There is something about being face-to-face with somebody, looking them in the eye, and seeing they're fully immersed in whatever you're discussing that bonds people together," CEO Andy Jassy wrote. It seems most Amazon workers disagree.