The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon "has told employees across the company that they may have to relocate to main offices concentrated in bigger cities, an escalation of its efforts to bring workers back to the office in-person.
"Managers at various Amazon businesses are telling their staff that if they are located in smaller offices or are remote workers, they may have to move to what the company calls 'main hub' locations such as the company’s headquarters in Seattle, or offices in New York or San Francisco … In some communications, employees are being told they have a certain amount of time to move back to their main hubs where their bosses or teams are located, even if they live close to other Amazon offices where they could work."
The story points out that to this point, Amazon's efforts to get employees to return to the office after the remote work that typified the pandemic have been met with "some resistance." Some tells the Journal that they think the new approach is designed to thin out the ranks and reduce Amazon's workforce through voluntary resignations, as opposed to layoffs.
While the definition of "main hub" is a little nebulous, the Journal writes that "as one of the largest companies in the U.S. with more than 1.4 million employees globally, Amazon has long invested in its office spaces throughout the country. Besides coastal cities, the company has large offices in metro areas such as Dallas, Nashville, Tenn., and Austin, Texas."
- KC's View:
I find myself conflicted about this approach by Amazon.
On the one hand, I understand the company's belief that by bringing people together, it fosters energy, collaboration, and connections that can lead the greater innovation. I'm also old enough to be a little old fashioned about this stuff - the company is writing the checks, and has a right to dictate where and how people work.
But I also think that Amazon may be playing into it-always-has-been-done-this way thinking. I don't buy the premise that remote workers are less productive; I think they may be productive in different ways (and at different times), but I tend to believe that for the most part, people who are productive at the office find ways to be just as effective and maybe even more efficient when working remotely.
Amazon can big-foot its employees if it wants to, but it inevitably will lose some good people. This actually will be an opportunity for competitors, who suddenly may have access to innovators that might have been out of reach in the past. They'll just have to think differently about hiring, and maybe about geography and demography.