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Amazon's New Rule: Office Returns or 'You're Fired'"

Amazon, the tech giant that rules our lives from our online shopping to our streaming habits, is now asserting its dominance over the office as well.

In a move that’s raised more than a few eyebrows, e-commerce giant Amazon has handed its managers the power to effectively fire employees who refuse to comply with the company's thrice-a-week return-to-office mandate. Amazon is not messing around, and it's all detailed in their updated global manager guidance.

The Amazon Manager's Dilemma

The guidance, disseminated through Amazon's internal channels, instructs managers to first engage in a private tête-à-tête with employees who aren’t up for the three-times-a-week office pilgrimage. After that, it's time to document the discussion in a follow-up email – a trail of digital breadcrumbs that may lead to their professional demise. If the employee still decides to be an office-avoidant renegade, the manager must host another meeting, and if push comes to shove, they are granted the authority to take disciplinary action, even if it includes the dreaded termination of employment.

In an email seen by Business Insider, the instructions run as follows:

"If the employee does not demonstrate immediate and sustained attendance after the first conversation, managers should then conduct a follow-up discussion within a reasonable time frame (depending on the employee situation, ~1-2 weeks). This conversation will 1) reinforce that return to office 3+ days a week is a requirement of their job, and 2) explain that continued non-compliance without a legitimate reason may lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of your employment," the guidelines sternly state.

Get Back in Here!

This move by Amazon represents the nuclear option in their ongoing battle to bring employees back into the office. Starting in February, Amazon announced that corporate employees would have to physically show up at the office a minimum of three times a week, effective from May.

In July, Amazon cranked up the pressure, telling remote employees to uproot and relocate near office "hubs" where their team mainly congregates. Those who dared to defy the dictate were offered a polite-sounding "voluntary resignation" package. By September, Amazon was even sharing individual attendance records with employees – a notable shift from their previous practice of anonymized data tracking.

In August, Amazon's CEO Andy Jassy offered a blunt warning to those who dared to resist the office attendance mandate, saying, "it's not going to work out" for them. Confusion further mounted when a top Amazon cloud executive casually dropped the bombshell that the return-to-office process could take up to three years to complete.

This has been going on for a while:


Amazon is ordering thousands of its workers back to the office for at least three days per week, according to a company memo.

Feb 17, 2023

In a statement, Amazon's spokesperson, Rob Munoz, emphasized that most employees have embraced the return-to-office initiative, fostering a sense of "energy, connection, and collaboration." Munoz also clarified that Amazon's relocation policy applies to only a "relatively small percentage of our team," and exceptions to the return-to-office mandate would be handled on a "case-by-case basis."

Musk’s (Entirely Reasonable) Take

All this comes at a time when Elon Musk – un-ironically it must be said – claimed that remote workers, and those who supported the idea, where “detached from reality”. The comments were made during an earnings call at Tesla and were, apparently, utterly unprovoked. Something’s got Elon’s goat, that’s for sure.

Last year, Musk sent out an email to Tesla employees telling them to be in the office a minimum of 40 hours a week or “depart”. This May he told CNBC that remote work was “morally wrong”.


As an entirely unrelated aside, Tesla was down over 8.3% for a 24-hour period following its Q3 earnings report.