Amazon is turning around and is offering its employees in different countries a more flexible model, which can usually consist of three days in the office and two days at home.
It was only at the end of March that Amazon announced that it was pursuing a return to the “office-centered” approach for its workforce. Corresponding plans are in the works. On Thursday, the e-commerce giant surprised the workforce and the public with a new approach that means a considerable pivot.
Office vs. home office
In the future, Amazon will offer its employees – at least in some countries – a flexible working model. The new “basic model” then consists of three days of office and two days of home office per week. It is determined within the teams which specific days of the week are spent by whom and where. This emerges from an internal memo that the tech company sent to the workforce and that found its way to the local media Mynorthwest in Seattle, Washington, where Amazon operates its headquarters.
Those who need even more flexibility can also get it according to the new concept – but at a price. Amazon employees who want to come to the office less than three days a week can be given a status that allows them to “primarily be seen as remote employees”. This is not the rule model, but an exception regulation that has to be justified individually. Those who want to take advantage of them have to live with not having their own office desk. Instead, such employees should use an “agile workspace that offers space for collaboration” on the days when they are in the office. To explain the move away from the original office focus, Amazon says that “we are thinking about what we think will be most beneficial to customers, while at the same time trying to give employees more flexibility in their work environment and life.” The new flexible working time regulation for employees in the USA, Great Britain, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates is expected to come into force on September 7, 2021. However, the company also points out that “most of our offices are open and employees in many locations are gradually returning.”
The transition to a hybrid world of work, which was initiated by the corona pandemic, has already led to permanent changes in many companies. Microsoft announced in mid-March that even after some of its employees return to the offices in mid-2021, there will still be “hybrid workplaces”. Just a few days ago, the iPhone manufacturer Apple announced a regulation very similar to that of Amazon. From September, employees should again be present in the office on the Apple campus in Cupertino on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. For this, Apple boss Tim Cook got himself a nasty letter from parts of the workforce. That is because it is not fully behind the strategy and would sometimes prefer to stay in the home office. Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg had already announced in January that employees who have been with the company for a long time can apply for permanent home worker status. He also assumes that half of the company’s employees will be working remotely within the next five to ten years.
In Germany, too, more and more employers are committed to at least a hybrid approach of office and home office. Here, for example, the US IT company Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), whose German branch in Boblingen employs around 2,000 people, has generally declared the home office to be the new standard place of work for most employees. Even at the software company SAP, which had allowed up to four days to work from home before the pandemic, management has now come to the conclusion that “for most SAP employees it doesn’t matter where they work from,” how SAP HR manager Cawa Younosi puts it. The technology group Siemens also wants to “permanently establish mobile working as the standard” according to its own statement. The aim is for all employees worldwide to be able to work mobile two to three days a week on average.