Amazon Delays Return to Office to 2022 Amid Renewed Covid-19 Surge

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The Wall Street Journal 05 August, 2021 - 01:18pm 75 views

Amazon.com Inc. said it would delay corporate employees’ return to offices until next year as conditions around the Covid-19 pandemic evolve.

The company adds to the wave of businesses adjusting their return-to-work plans as the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus drives a surge in coronavirus cases.

Amazon said Thursday that it...

Amazon.com Inc. said it would delay corporate employees’ return to offices until next year as conditions around the Covid-19 pandemic evolve.

The company adds to the wave of businesses adjusting their return-to-work plans as the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus drives a surge in coronavirus cases.

Amazon said Thursday that it was pushing its return to offices to at least Jan. 3, 2022. The online retail giant previously had targeted early September for regular office work to resume. The decision affects office workers both in the U.S. and other countries. The Seattle Times earlier reported on Amazon’s change in plans.

“We will continue to follow local government guidance and work closely with leading medical healthcare professionals, gathering their advice and recommendations as we go forward to ensure our work spaces are optimized for the safety of our teams,” Amazon said.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. said Thursday that it was delaying its staggered office return to Oct. 4, citing rising Covid-19 cases across the U.S. The guidance doesn’t affect those employees already working in person and some others.

As the Delta variant sweeps the globe, scientists are learning more about why new versions of the coronavirus spread faster, and what this could mean for vaccine efforts. The spike protein, which gives the virus its unmistakable shape, might hold the key. Illustration: Nick Collingwood/WSJ The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition

Microsoft Corp. this week also said it was delaying the full reopening of its U.S. offices to at least Oct. 4 because of fluid conditions around the pandemic. The company previously had said it might reopen those offices next month. Microsoft also said it would require proof of vaccination for all employees, vendors and any guests entering its U.S. facilities, joining tech companies such as Google and Facebook Inc. that are requiring all employees at their domestic campuses to be vaccinated.

Business-listing company Yelp Inc. said Thursday that it would allow businesses to list Covid-19 vaccine information, such as “proof of vaccination required” and “all staff fully vaccinated.” The company also said it would put in place measures to protect businesses from reviews that principally criticize pandemic-related health-and-safety measures.

Amazon has been one of the big corporate winners from the pandemic, as people stuck at home have gravitated to online ordering. The Seattle-based tech giant took home almost $30 billion in profit in the past year as millions of consumers increased their online activities to meet their shopping, entertainment and work needs, adding to its power.

Amazon hasn’t mandated that its staff be vaccinated to return to the office. The company said it is requiring employees who aren’t vaccinated to wear masks in its offices.

The company’s army of warehouse workers operate under similar rules. Workers who have been vaccinated don’t have to wear a mask unless required to do so by local directives. Those who aren’t vaccinated have to wear a mask.

The e-commerce giant is among a number of tech companies that have said they would no longer expect employees to be in the office full-time even after the pandemic wanes. The company said in June that it would offer hybrid work for eligible employees, with a baseline of three days a week spent in the office and flexibility to work remotely the other two days. Some employees also can work as many as four weeks a year fully remotely from a domestic location.

—Sebastian Herrera contributed to this article.

Write to Aaron Tilley at aaron.tilley@wsj.com

Read full article at The Wall Street Journal

Amazon delays return to office for corporate employees until 2022 | ZDNet

ZDNet 05 August, 2021 - 06:25pm

Amazon on Thursday confirmed that it is delaying its plans to bring corporate employees back to the office as cases of the Covid-19 virus surge. The tech giant now expects employees in the US and other countries to begin coming in regularly on January 3, 2022.  

Previously, Amazon expected a return to the office beginning the week of September 7. Amazon said in an email to ZDNet that the health and well-being of its employees is its top priority and that it's monitoring the situation closely. The company is working with medical professionals and following local government guidance as it amends its policy. 

Amazon said that if employees have not verified they are fully vaccinated, they are required to wear masks in offices.

Like many employers, Amazon has embraced hybrid work plans in response to the ongoing pandemic, giving corporate employees more flexibility. The changes are a challenge for corporate cultures that value in-person collaboration. Back in March, Amazon said that it plans to "return to an office-centric culture as our baseline. We believe it enables us to invent, collaborate, and learn together most effectively."

Other tech companies are similarly pushing back plans to open their offices as Covid-19 cases once again surge. Earlier this week, Microsoft said it was once again pushing back the earliest date for the full opening of its US worksites to October 4. Google is also extending its voluntary work-from-home policy through late October. Both Google and Microsoft will start requiring workers to be vaccinated before coming into the office. 

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Amazon is delaying its return to office until 2022

CNN 05 August, 2021 - 03:13pm

The online retail giant's corporate workers in multiple countries, including the United States, were originally slated to start coming back to the office by September 7, but that date has now been moved to January 3, 2022, Amazon (AMZN) told CNN Business.

When they do return, employees will be required to wear masks inside the office unless they have shown proof that they are vaccinated, the company added.

The change for corporate workers comes after Amazon dialed back some pandemic safety precautions for its warehouse workers. Amazon recently said it would stop offering on-site Covid-19 testing by the end of July, citing the wide availability of testing and vaccines. In late May, Amazon informed workers that it would lift its mask mandate for fully vaccinated warehouse employees, a change that came after guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said fully vaccinated people can go without masks in most circumstances as long as it is in line with workplace and local business policies.

Many of the tech industry's biggest companies, who were among the first to shut down their offices at the start of the pandemic last year, had set September as the target to reopen. Now these companies are delaying those plans as concerns about the Delta variant increase — and in some cases they're requiring vaccinations for employees who are returning.

Google (GOOGL) last week announced it would push its office return date from September 1 to October 18, while ride-hailing company Uber (UBER) said it won't reopen offices until October 25. Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook also confirmed in an interview with CNBC that the company will delay its planned September reopening by at least a month.

Microsoft (MSFT), which like Amazon is headquartered near Seattle, has also postponed its full reopening and said earlier this week that it won't allow all workers back before October 4.

At least one tech company — Lyft (LYFT) — is going even further than Amazon. The company's CEO, Logan Green, told employees earlier this month that most of its US offices will now reopen on Feb 2, 2022.

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Amazon is delaying its return to office until 2022

KOMO News 05 August, 2021 - 03:13pm

The online retail giant's corporate workers in multiple countries, including the United States, were originally slated to start coming back to the office by September 7, but that date has now been moved to January 3, 2022, Amazon (AMZN) told CNN Business.

When they do return, employees will be required to wear masks inside the office unless they have shown proof that they are vaccinated, the company added.

The change for corporate workers comes after Amazon dialed back some pandemic safety precautions for its warehouse workers. Amazon recently said it would stop offering on-site Covid-19 testing by the end of July, citing the wide availability of testing and vaccines. In late May, Amazon informed workers that it would lift its mask mandate for fully vaccinated warehouse employees, a change that came after guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said fully vaccinated people can go without masks in most circumstances as long as it is in line with workplace and local business policies.

Many of the tech industry's biggest companies, who were among the first to shut down their offices at the start of the pandemic last year, had set September as the target to reopen. Now these companies are delaying those plans as concerns about the Delta variant increase — and in some cases they're requiring vaccinations for employees who are returning.

Google (GOOGL) last week announced it would push its office return date from September 1 to October 18, while ride-hailing company Uber (UBER) said it won't reopen offices until October 25. Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook also confirmed in an interview with CNBC that the company will delay its planned September reopening by at least a month.

Microsoft (MSFT), which like Amazon is headquartered near Seattle, has also postponed its full reopening and said earlier this week that it won't allow all workers back before October 4.

At least one tech company — Lyft (LYFT) — is going even further than Amazon. The company's CEO, Logan Green, told employees earlier this month that most of its US offices will now reopen on Feb 2, 2022.

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Amazon the latest to delay return-to-office plans amid rising COVID-19 cases

CNET 05 August, 2021 - 12:26pm

Inside Amazon's corporate headquarters in Seattle.

Amazon told employees Thursday that they won't be required to return to their offices until January. It's the latest in a string of delays for the return-to-work plans of major tech companies, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

"We have adjusted our plans for corporate employees in the US and other countries where we had previously anticipated that employees would begin coming in regularly the week of Sept. 7, by extending this date to Jan. 3, 2022," Amazon confirmed to CNET in a statement.

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The move would align Amazon with other major tech corporations that are rethinking their plans for a return to the office. In late July, Twitter took the step of closing its opened offices in New York and San Francisco, and pausing future reopenings as well. Apple reportedly pushed its return-to-work date back a month, telling employees to stay at home till October. Google instituted a similar delay until October, and took the additional measure of requiring employees to get vaccinated before returning to their workspaces. Facebook, too, said it'll require employees to get vaccinated before they head back to the office.

Amazon hasn't taken the step of mandating vaccines for its workforce, but the company requires employees to wear masks at the office, with the exception of those who are verified to be fully vaccinated.

"We will continue to follow local government guidance and work closely with leading medical health care professionals, gathering their advice and recommendations as we go forward to ensure our work spaces are optimized for the safety of our teams," Amazon said in a statement.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just under 350 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the US as of Aug. 5, with 49.9% of the population fully vaccinated and 58% having received at least one dose. As of Aug. 2, 69.6% of the population 12 and up in Washington state, where Amazon's headquarters are located, had received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Amazon postpones return to office date to 2022

Fox Business 05 August, 2021 - 12:20pm

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Amazon is pushing back its return to office date until January 2022 amid growing concerns about the delta variant of COVID-19. 

Corporate employees of the Seattle-based e-commerce giant won't be allowed to head back to the office until at least Jan. 3, Amazon said.  

Originally, the company anticipated that employees would be back in the office regularly right after Labor Day.   

The company said it will closely monitor guidance by local governments and leading health care professionals in order to ensure that workspaces are safe when teams return.

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An increasing number of companies are postponing their return dates and upping their in-office protocols when they do reopen in order to combat the highly contagious variant which continues to drive a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. 

Recently, Google announced it was is postponing a return to the office for most workers until mid-October and rolling out a policy that will eventually require everyone to be vaccinated once its sprawling campuses are fully reopened.

Apple also moved its return-to-office plans from September to October. 

However, unlike companies such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft, Amazon has still not implemented a vaccine mandate for when employees do go back to the office.

When they do return, Amazon employees will be asked to wear masks inside unless they can verify that they have been fully vaccinated.

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Amazon postpones return to office until January 2022

CNBC 05 August, 2021 - 11:29am

Amazon is postponing a return to the office for its corporate employees until early next year, becoming the latest tech company to do so amid a rise in Covid-19 cases due to the highly contagious delta variant.

Corporate employees in the U.S. and some other countries will begin returning to the office beginning Jan. 3, 2022, the company confirmed to CNBC. Previously, Amazon had said it expected most of its employees to begin returning regularly to the office the week of Sept. 7 of this year.

GeekWire previously reported Amazon's updated return-to-work guidance.

In recent weeks, other technology companies including Google, Facebook, Apple and Twitter have adjusted their return-to-work plans amid a rise in Covid-19 cases.

Unlike Google and Facebook, Amazon won't require workers returning to its office to be vaccinated. Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky confirmed this in a call with reporters following the company's second-quarter earnings report last week.

The company will require employees to wear masks in the office, unless they show proof of full vaccination, Amazon said.

Amazon in June walked back its guidance around remote work. The company said it expects employees to work in the office three days a week, leaving them the option to work remotely up to two days a week. That was a significant U-turn from its March guidance, when it said its goal was to "return to an office-centric culture as our baseline."

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