In a potentially worrisome sign for office re-openings, Amazon has confirmed that its employees won’t return to the office until January 2022. For those keeping score at home, that’s a four-month adjustment from the e-commerce giant’s original back-to-office target of September 7. The Delta variant of COVID-19, which is reportedly far more infectious than the original version of the virus, has companies across the country reconsidering their back-to-office plans.
According to The Verge, which broke the story, Amazon employees who have been vaccinated will have the option of wearing masks in the office; unvaccinated employees will be required to do so. Amazon will also maintain its previously-announced hybrid schedule, with employees expected in the office at least three days per week.
“If you would like to work in the office less than three days a week and are still able to commute into your assigned office as needed, you can apply for an exception from your VP,” is how Amazon described its approach to all-remote work. “If the exception is approved, you will be considered primarily a remote worker, and will have an agile workspace (not a dedicated one) that provides space to collaborate with your team.”
Some employees will also have the option of working entirely remote “from a domestic location” for up to four weeks per year, a benefit also offered at other tech giants such as Apple.
Throughout 2021, Amazon has emphasized that it expects employees to return to an “office-centric culture” as its “baseline.” Although some tech companies have opted to go all-remote, Amazon still plans on moving thousands of employees into enormous new offices across the country, including its “HQ2” headquarters in Arlington, VA, as well as a massive Manhattan building once occupied by Lord & Taylor.
It’s clear from numerous surveys that technologists prefer either remote or flexible options when it comes to the office. For Amazon, extending hybrid work options to its technologists may satisfy many of them. It will be a few more months, however, before we can see how the policy will work in practice.