Amazon reverses course, joins other Seattle tech companies in expanding work-from-home options

By MyNorthwest Staff

Amazon's downtown Seattle headquarters. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

In late March, Amazon announced that unlike other Seattle tech companies, it planned to return to an “office-centric” approach post-pandemic. The company has now reversed course, though, announcing Thursday that it will be offering flexible work-from-home options for its employees moving forward.

Microsoft the latest Puget Sound company to bring workers back

According to an internal memo sent to employees, the company’s “new baseline” will be three days a week in the office, with the option for two work-from-home days each week. Specific days will vary team to team.

Amazon employees who wish to come into the office fewer than three days a week will also be allowed to apply for an exception, which would allow them to “be considered primarily a remote worker.” Those approved for an exception won’t have a dedicated desk in the office, and will instead use an “agile workspace that provides space to collaborate” for days they work in-person.

Explaining the decision to shift away from its initial “office-centric” plan, Amazon noted that its “thinking is predicated on what we believe will be most beneficial for customers, while also trying to give employees more flexibility in their work environment and lives.”

The new flexible work schedule will take effect the week of Sept. 7 for employees in the United States, United Kingdom, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. That said, the company also points out that “most of our offices are open, and employees are gradually returning in many locations.”

Facebook first major company to bring Seattle workers back to offices

Other tech companies with large presences in Seattle have already announced similar plans to have workers return to more flexible work-from-home models at the conclusion of the pandemic.

That includes Microsoft, which announced in mid-March that it would be committing to a “hybrid workplace” even after returning some of of its employees to offices in mid-2021. Similarly, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in January that longer-tenured workers would be able to request permanent work-from-home status, while acknowledging that he expects half of the company’s workers to be remote within the next five to 10 years.

Additionally, Zillow indicated last July that it would be allowing all of its employees to remain in a work-from-home model full-time.