In brief: Amazon is reportedly encouraging some employees to work from home in a bid to help the company cut costs associated with on-site employment. One source claims the move is part of a broader strategy that will eventually involve closing multiple call centers across the country including one location in Kennewick, Washington, that opened in 2005.
Sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that Amazon is nudging some customer service reps at US-based call centers to work remotely.
Amazon spokesperson Brad Glasser confirmed the remote work push, noting they are offering additional customer service team members the increased flexibility that comes with working from home. Glasser, who did not directly comment on planned facility closures, added that Amazon is working with these employees to ensure a smooth transition while continuing to prioritize top-notch support for customers.
The pandemic prompted a workforce rethink that is likely to linger long beyond Covid-19. According to Jeff Christofis from staffing service Kelly Services, nearly 90 percent of US customer service reps commuted to call centers before the pandemic. Once the smoke clears, the split between working remotely and commuting to an office will likely be closer to 50/50.
The shift feels like a win-win for both sides. Employees will be able to enjoy the perks that come with working remotely including reduced fuel and vehicle maintenance costs as well as time lost during travel. Amazon will not be restricted to recruiting from specific regions and if enough people opt to work remotely, the company could save money by closing dedicated call centers. In addition to the overhead involved in running a physical call center, Amazon also has to pay for the real estate it occupies.
Ultimately, Amazon customers could end up with the short end of the stick. Customer support reps working from home likely would not have the same level of managerial oversight as those in call centers and it is plausible that the quality of their work could suffer.