Like other Big Tech firms such as Twitter, Google and Microsoft, Amazon has been allowing their office employees to work from home (WFH).
While Microsoft and Twitter are dabbling with permanent work-from-home configurations, Amazon is taking the more conservative approach, like Facebook and Google, sticking to a pre-determined timeframe. Now, the e-commerce giant has stated that it is extending its WFH deadline to June 2021, as per Bloomberg and Business Insider (BI). In April, Amazon had set a target date of October 2, but revised it in July, giving employees until January 8, BI noted.
Twitter announced it would be allowing employees to work from home “forever” back in May, making quite the wave in the industry at the time. Meanwhile, Facebook and Google had originally said they would be allowing their staff to work from home until the end of the year, but recently pushed the date to summer 2021.
“Employees who work in a role that can effectively be done from home are welcome to do so until June 30, 2021,” an Amazon spokesperson told BI. “We have invested significant funds and resources to keep those who choose to come to the office safe through physical distancing, deep cleaning, temperature checks, and by providing face coverings and hand sanitizer.”
Naturally, warehouse employees and other field staff are not considered for this scheme, as Amazon considers them “frontline” workers that are essential for its core operations. While white-collar workers are likely to be grateful for this new mandate, field employees are still experiencing friction between them and Amazon, having repeatedly gone on strike during the pandemic to protest insufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) and risky working conditions that to date have resulted in over 19,000 COVID-19 cases in the US, as per Amazon data. “Frontline” employee backlash against Amazon has been international, reported in countries like France, Poland, and Italy.
These concerns were especially timely given that Amazon had announced during March that it would be looking to hire 100,000 new logistics (warehouse and delivery) workers in the US to help address surging demand given the pandemic and stay-at-home orders. This number was doubled in September, when the company announced it would be looking to fill another 100,000 or so openings, this time in Canada in addition to the US. With such a massive hiring spree, one can imagine where current employees’ concerns are stemming from.
“Since the beginning of this crisis, we’ve worked hard to keep our employees informed, notifying them of every new case in their building,” Amazon said in a blog post addressing the state of COVID-19 on their premises, as well as testing. “We also want to share details and best practices for keeping employees safe with NGOs, governments, and other companies.”
For now, Amazon continues to enjoy unparalleled success, and could very well emerge as the number one winner from this pandemic. Its Q2 earnings showed that revenue was up 40% to $88.9 billion y-o-y, while net income was recorded at $5.2 billion, compared to $2.6 billion in Q2 2019.
Amazon will disclose its Q3 2020 earnings next week.