Amazon CEO Andy Jassy is pushing back on employees’ defiance of the company’s return-to-office policy, telling employees it is “past the time to disagree” with the policy.
During an internal Q&A session earlier this month, the Associated Press reported Jassy told employees it was “past the time to disagree and commit” to the company’s return-to-office policy, which mandates corporate employees be in the office three days a week.
Jassy’s remarks were first reported by Business Insider.
“If you can’t disagree and commit, it’s probably not going to work out for you,” Jassy said, adding it is not right for some employees to be in the office three days a week while others refuse to come in, according to AP reporting.
The phrase “disagree and commit” is part of Amazon’s Leadership Principles and has often been used by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. According to Amazon’s website, the phrase means “Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting,” adding that once a decision is reached, the employees must “commit wholly.”
The new office mandate was announced in February and went into effect in May, marking a shift from the company’s previous policy that allowed team leaders to decide on their work location.
In February’s announcement, Jassy said he and his team of senior executives, dubbed the S-team, observed it is “easier to learn, model, practice and strengthen our culture” when in the office with other staff. He argued communication, collaboration, learning and invention are easier and more effective while in person.
These reasons among others led Amazon to conclude employees should be in the office “the majority of the time” or at least three days a week, Jassy said in February. He said while there will be exceptions to the rule, that will be a “small minority.”
Amazon pushed back on the idea that the previous policy was supposed to be the norm, pointing to Jassy’s 2021 announcement where he wrote the company will “continue to adjust.”
In May, hundreds of corporate Amazon employees walked out of the company’s Seattle headquarters in protest of its climate issues and return-to-office mandate. The AP reported an internal Slack channel advocating for remote work had nearly 33,000 members.
Some employees have called for Amazon to release data to support Jassy’s argument. During the session, Jassy claimed the company’s leadership looked at available data and felt that meetings were not as effective in a remote environment, according to AP. Jassy also reportedly noted there were multiple scenarios in which the company made large decisions without perfect data, such as pursing AWS, or Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing services.
Amazon has nearly 1.4 million workers around the globe but does not specify how many employees work in office settings, or its warehouses and other sites.
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