Amazon has ditched plans to bring all workers back to the office three days per week, instead leaving it up to department leaders to decide how often staff should be present.

Andy Jassy, chief executive, has torn up plans introduced under Amazon’s billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, who stepped down from the helm in July.

Amazon has been grappling with returning its staff to the office, initially planning for a return from September, then pushing the date back to January 2022.

Mr Jassy said Amazon will now delegate the decision to its directors, leaders of business lines at a local level, who will choose which staff members need to be in the office and how often.

The new rules will also apply to the US company’s UK offices, where it has thousands of white collar staff in buildings in London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Cambridge. 

Britons want to wfh

Mr Jassy said in an email to staff: “Instead of specifying that people work a baseline of three days a week in the office we’re going to leave this decision up to individual teams. This decision will be made team by team at the director level.”

He added that some teams would work mostly remotely, some would combine home and office work and others would return full time.

Mr Jassy said: “We expect that there will be teams that continue working mostly remotely, others that will work some combination of remotely and in the office, and still others that will decide customers are best served having the team work mostly in the office.”

The changes only apply to Amazon’s office workers. Its warehouse workers, drivers, packers and data centre engineers have all worked on site throughout the pandemic. The company expects to have 55,000 staff in total in the UK by the end of this year.

US technology companies have been attempting to ease workers back into the office, although some staff have embraced their new freedoms by moving away from cities where their office is based and demanded greater flexibility going forward.

Back to work (in the office) poll

Mr Jassy added that he wanted staff who worked remotely to be able to go to the office for team meetings if they are asked at short notice. 

He said: “We want most of our people close enough to their core team that they can easily travel to the office for a meeting within a day’s notice.”

The surge in delta variant cases in the US has given other Big Tech firms pause on their return to work plans. Google pushed back its return to the office to January 2022. Apple faced a public staff backlash over its return to work and also delayed its plans. Others such as Twitter have promised staff they can continue to work from home indefinitely if they choose to.