Amazon cloud executive says company's return-to-office has not been smoothest

Amazon cloud executive says company's return-to-office has not been smoothest

A top cloud executive at Amazon said that the company's return-to-office process hasn't been the smoothest, and pledged to clarify the messaging and potentially investigate situations where employees have been pressured to move back too quickly, according to a transcript of an internal meeting.

The SVP of Utility Computing, Peter DeSantis, said he expects the full transition of his team members moving closer to a central office 'hub' to take up to three years. He said that employees should share anecdotes of being pressured to immediately relocate with his HR team, so he could 'dig into' those situations.

DeSantis said a warning email about office attendance that some employees got in August was meant to be a 'nudge' to get people back, but admitted there were communication difficulties in delivering the 'nuanced' guidelines across the company.

More than 6 months after announcing the 3-times a week in-office mandate, DeSantis' comments suggest that Amazon is still dealing with employee backlash over its RTO policy. The multi-year transition plan for DeSantis's team is different from the more immediate moving schedule some employees on other teams received in July, when Amazon told remote employees to move closer to office 'hubs' or effectively be fired through.

''It's more energy, connection, and collaboration, and we're hearing that from employees and the businesses that surround our offices,'' Munoz said in a statement.

DeSantis said that the workers asked to relocate were those 'in purely virtual locations'. The intent is to get employees to move closer to a company location so that individuals can work in person with a local team, DeSantis said.

Some managers told DeSantis that many employees were under the impression they had to move within a shorter period of time to an office hub, even if they lived close to a different Amazon building.

Amazon's CEO Andy Jassy's comment that it's 'past' the time to commit to the company's RTO mandate exacerbated those concerns, the managers said.

Internal guidelines from August showed that employees in remote locations needed to move closer to an office hub or find a new team that accommodated their needs within 60 days. However, the employees had to leave the company without severance, under what's called a voluntary resignation.

In August, many Amazon employees received emails accusing them of not adhering to the company's RTO policy. Some said the email was sent to them by mistake.

A number of people complained, DeSantis said, because they got it in error. He said office badging data is 'informational' and only shared in'very aggregated ways'. DeSantis said Amazon chose to pick three days in the office because it's a reasonable average. He also said there's no talk of moving into a four-day work week in the future, though he couldn't guarantee anything. Regardless, DeSantis said it's important to be in the same office because it comes with many added benefits.

DeSantis said he did not immediately know whether he would seek re-election.

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