Amazon issues warning to employees not spending enough time in office

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US tech giant Amazon is tracking and punishing employees who are not spending enough time in the office, according to an email sent to its employees by the administration earlier this week.

Some of the company’s staff members received a warning from Amazon on Wednesday (August 9) which said they were “not currently meeting our expectation of joining your colleagues in the office at least three days a week,” reported Financial Times.

A statement by Amazon clarified that the alert was sent to those employees who “have come into the office fewer than three days a week for five or more of the past eight weeks.”

The company acknowledged it could have alerted some of its employees by mistake and it encouraged them to report their attendance to the Human Resource team.

Amazon’s recent move reflects a wider trend in the US tech sector of encouraging employees to return to the office. The company tracks attendance through badge tap-ins, as done by Google.

However, the company has faced resistance from the workers, who now prefer the current hybrid or completely remote setup. 

Recently, some Amazon workers staged a walkout over the return-to-office mandate. 

As per a report by Morning Consult, about 85 per cent of tech workers are working either hybrid or fully remote. The figure fared around 50 per cent in May 2022, and was at around 20 per cent before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, studies have shown that workers don’t want to return to office despite efforts by their employers. A Morning Consult report cited by the Guardian noted that three in five tech workers were not interested in returning to the office full-time.

Wider trend among US tech companies

Amazon has joined the ranks of companies encouraging employees to come back to the office. In March, Apple initiated measures to penalise employees who didn’t return part-time, and Elon Musk, upon becoming X’s CEO, also mandated a full-time return.

Advocates for workers’ rights argue that forcing employees back to the office could bolster the burgeoning labour movement in the tech industry.

Watch: Apple services grow but iPhone sales decline, Amazon reports best earnings since 2020

This push to return coincides with a new surge of COVID-19 cases in the US, highlighting the risks that initially prompted the shift to remote work. 

Hospitalisations and deaths due to Covid have risen by 12.5 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, in the past week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

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