Amazon announces back-to-office policy change

PLUSH, Community, Member News,

Today, Amazon announced that its corporate and tech employees will be back in the office at least three days per week, effective May 1. 

"This is an exciting announcement for the Eastside," said Bellevue Chamber President and CEO, Joe Fain. "As the first company to reach 10,000 employees in Bellevue, this is extraordinary news for the health and vitality in downtown."

"With plans to open two more buildings in the months ahead, this decision will be a catalyst for stabilizing our commercial market while accelerating the return of retail, restaurants, and other commercial office tenants." 

Amazon officials recognize the importance this decision holds for Bellevue and the Eastside, particularly following changes in the development market and tech layoffs. Despite this, Amazon plans to move forward with two projects planned for Bellevue this year, and are continuing the private-public partnership with the City of Bellevue to invest in light rail, BRT, and other affordable housing projects with its Housing Equity Fund. 

“Amazon is committed to Bellevue for the long-term," said Fain.

In a message to staff and a forward-facing blog post, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy laid out the reasoning for this shift back to the office. 

  • "It’s easier to learn, model, practice, and strengthen our culture when we’re in the office together most of the time and surrounded by our colleagues. It’s especially true for new people (and we’ve hired a lot of people in the pandemic); but it’s also true for people of all tenures at Amazon. When you’re in-person, people tend to be more engaged, observant, and attuned to what’s happening in the meetings and the cultural clues being communicated."

  • "Collaborating and inventing is easier and more effective when we’re in person. The energy and riffing on one another’s ideas happen more freely. In the more productive brainstorm sessions I’ve been a part of over the years, people get excited and blurt out new ideas or improvements to prior proposals, quickly advancing the seed of an idea, and leading to the broader group getting energized and feeling that it’s onto something. This rapid interjecting happens more often in-person because people feel less inhibited about jumping in or even interrupting sometimes."

  • "Learning from one another is easier in-person. Being able to walk a few feet to somebody’s space and ask them how to do something or how they’ve handled a particular situation is much easier than Chiming or Slacking them. Even though people can use the instant message function, people just don’t do it frequently."

  • "Teams tend to be better connected to one another when they see each other in person more frequently. There is something about being face-to-face with somebody, looking them in the eye, and seeing they’re fully immersed in whatever you’re discussing that bonds people together."

Read Jassy's full report here.