Amazon: Let teams decide on WFH
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

Businesses continue struggling to define a clear back-to-office strategy as both a prolonged pandemic and a major shift in attitudes toward office work have forced employers big and small to accommodate hybrid, work-from-anywhere schedules.

On the big end of the equation is Amazon, who this week shifted their office return plans yet again by abandoning the January 2022 deadline for workers to start a 3-day-in, two-day-out hybrid office schedule.

Instead, Amazon will let team leaders at the Director level determine when, if, and for how long workers under their management will return to their desks, with Amazon CEO Andy Jassy going to great lengths to avoid a prescriptive mandate in an email explaining the plan to employees.

“For our corporate roles, instead of specifying that people work a baseline of three days a week in the office, we’re going to leave this decision up to individual teams,” Jassy’s message reads. “We expect that there will be teams that continue working mostly remotely, others that will work some combination of remotely and in the office, and still others that will decide customers are best served having the team work mostly in the office. […] The decisions should be guided by what will be most effective for our customers; and not surprisingly, we will all continue to be evaluated by how we deliver for customers, regardless of where the work is performed.”

While this is a more flexible working policy than previously outlined by Amazon, there are still some caveats, including the requirement that “most of our people [are] close enough to their core team that they can easily travel to the office for a meeting within a day’s notice.”

Individuals will also be allowed to work fully remote up to four weeks per year regardless of where they land with their managers, as long as they do so within the country where they are employed.

Plans need to be finalized and teams within Amazon alerted by January 3rd, 2022, according to Jassy’s email, mirroring a timeline that’s been mapped out for other major tech employers. Apple and Google similarly had pinned their return-to-office hopes on a January 2022 return, though it’s expected that these companies may follow the lead of Microsoft, who pushed back their office openings indefinitely back in September.

Social media companies have proven even more accepting of flexible schedules, as Facebook famously kicked off the “ask your manager” protocol back in June by announcing they’d grant permanent WFH privileges to any of the 60,000 employees whose directors approve.

Twitter, however, has been laying the groundwork for an almost completely remote workforce for the better part of two years, according to a recent Washington Post story. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey even sent an “off-the-cuff” email back in 2018 to employees encouraging them to “get to yes” when it comes to requesting WFH privileges by proving their abilities to be productive remotely.

While only 3 percent of Twitter’s employees worked from home permanently pre-pandemic, it’s estimated that more than half of the company will be fully remote going forward.

“We’ve already been on this path, and the crisis just catapulted us into a future state,” Twitter human resources chief Jennifer Christie told the Post.

One thing to consider through all of this is that despite more employees foregoing the office commute, corporate real estate doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, as major tech companies continue to make huge office purchases to support their growing workforce. While this could be further proof that the global experiment in WFH brought on by the pandemic is a short-term fad, what’s really at play is an evolution of the office opposed to extinction.

Going forward, enterprises will need to treat their workers “in the field” as individual offices-of-one, so to speak, as employees access the corporate network and resources outside of the traditional four walls (and ISP hookup) of an IT-managed branch location. Instead of brushing off their office-bound network management duties, enterprise IT teams are actually seeing their management footprint explode to account for a decentralized worker footprint.

This is calling for teams to leverage new management strategies that are flexible, agile, and scalable to accomodate an ever-changing network footprint and the wealth of stakeholders involved in delivering workflows to remote users.


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Filed Under: Industry Insights

Tags: enterprise cloud , enterprise network , enterprise IT , enterprise , network performance monitoring , network monitoring , network management , flexible work , future of work , google , facebook , twitter , hybrid office , remote work , hybrid work , work from anywhere , work from home , amazon