As the number of COVID-19 cases rises, particularly the Delta variant, Amazon has moved the date for employees to report to the office from 7 September 2021 to 3 January 2022. The decision comes less than three weeks after Amazon reported more than 19,000 COVID-19 cases this year, among the company's frontline workers in the US.
The option to work from home will be applicable to those employees whose jobs don’t mandate them to be present in the office. Employees in the corporate and tech segment are at liberty to opt for a hybrid work model. The hybrid work model plan will let employees continue working from home for at least two days a week.
On the other hand, Amazon's 1.2 million-strong frontline workforce, who is engaged in merchandise, packaging and loading and unloading of packages, are expected to work on site. Unlike other tech companies, Amazon does not mandate vaccination for its employees, but it does require unvaccinated employees to wear masks at the workplace.
Elected officials and union heads have criticised Amazon's newly adopted hybrid work model plan and called it a health risk for employees working at warehouses. Amazon's spokeswoman revealed that the company has been taking strict health and safety measures, such as physical distancing, deep cleaning, temperature checks, and by providing face coverings as well as hand sanitisers, for employees who are working from the office.
Amazon is one of Washington's largest private employers and the extended return-to-office date approximately affects 60,000 workers at its Seattle, Bellevue and Washington offices. The evolved hybrid work model is likely to affect many downtown Seattle businesses and companies as they significantly rely on the trade of tech workers at Amazon.
Microsoft, Twitter, Google and Lyft have also extended their return to office timeline due to the surge in Covid-19 cases and new delta variant.