Amazon has abandoned the idea of a company-wide total remote working policy and has instead decided to give individual team leaders the power to decide.
“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,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy wrote in an email to employees this week.
“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 decision on how many days people get to work remotely, and which days that should be, will also be made by the directors, Jassy said, adding that these calls should be made based on what’s most effective for the customers.
Remote working too risky?
What’s more, employees will have to be close enough to be able to come in for a meeting within a day’s notice. In some cases, workers will be allowed to work fully remote up to four weeks a year, from any location in their country, if they can conduct their work with the same level of effectiveness as if they were in the office, Jassy confirmed.
An updated version of the company’s FAQ states that for employees to work remotely (outside commuting distance), they’ll need the VP’s approval.
The news is the latest in a major debate brewing in the business world concerning whether remote working is too much of a liability to be allowed at a grander scale. While research shows many positives for both employees and the firms, the recent Facebook outage illuminated the bad side of the process.
A misconfigured update essentially detached Facebook from the internet, and with the company’s servers even controlling keycards and physical access, employees were locked out. With most of them working remotely and not being on-site at the time of the incident, it took a lot longer to remedy the problem (roughly seven hours).
However, the incident did not force Facebook to change its approach towards remote working. “There has not been a change to our policy,” the company representative told us after the outage. “As we announced in August, we are working to return our teams safely back to office in January 2022.”
With the rise of the Delta variant, some companies are postponing the return of their employees (Microsoft indefinitely, Google until January 2022).