Amazon extends remote work policy for office employees to June 2021

A lone dog walker uses the park near The Spheres at Amazon’s headquarters campus. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Amazon employees can now work from home until June 30. The Seattle tech giant extended its remote work policy, which previously was set until Jan. 8, 2021.

“We continue to prioritize the health of our employees and follow local government guidance,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “Employees with work that can effectively be done from home can continue to do that work from home through June 30, 2021. We have invested significant funds and resources to keep those who choose to come to the office safe through physical distancing, deep cleaning, temperature checks, and by providing face coverings and hand sanitizer.”

Bloomberg first reported on the new policy.

Amazon was among the first large employers to authorize remote work when COVID-19 hit the U.S. Amazon in April extended its work from home guidance through this month.

The latest extension is more troubling news for restaurants, shops, and service providers that operate in and around Amazon’s sprawling campus north of downtown Seattle, which has been largely empty since early March. Seattle restaurateur Tom Douglas in July permanently shuttered two of his restaurants in Amazon’s backyard. Other nearby businesses in downtown Seattle are also suffering as tech companies allow remote work. More than 120 street-level downtown shops have closed since March, the Seattle Times reported.

Amazon has dispersed $11 million in financial assistance to businesses around its Seattle offices impacted by employees working from home. The company employs more than 50,000 tech workers at its Seattle HQ. This summer the Seattle City Council passed a new plan to tax top salaries at the city’s highest-paying businesses, including Amazon.

Fellow Seattle-area tech giant Microsoft earlier this month released new “hybrid workplace” guidance that will allow employees to work from home freely for less than 50% of their working week, and managers will be able to approve permanent remote work. Employees can even relocate elsewhere in the country.

Other tech giants including Twitter and Zillow Group are allowing employees to work remotely indefinitely.

An Amazon employee shows off an innovation that allows a supervisor to roam the warehouse and provide support behind a protective barrier. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Amazon is unique among tech companies in that it not only employs office workers but also warehouse staff. The company crossed a key milestone over the second quarter, growing to more than 1 million employees and seasonal workers around the world for the first time.

On Oct. 1 Amazon revealed that more than 19,000 workers have tested positive or been presumed positive for COVID-19. A state-by-state chart of case rates among front-line employees along with additional details about methodology and data sources was also released.

Amazon first announced in April that it was assembling a team of its own workers with a variety of skills, including research scientists, program managers, software engineers and procurement specialists, to start building out testing capacity. An in-house pilot testing program for employees was confirmed in May.

The company now says it is conducting thousands of tests a day and will grow to 50,000 tests a day across 650 sites by November.

It credits an array of its own initiatives in keeping positive numbers down, including safety measures in warehouses and fulfillment centers. The company previously said it was spending $800 million on COVID-19 safety precautions, and $4 billion on its larger COVID-19 initiatives in the second quarter alone.

Employee activists have pressed the company to better protect warehouse workers as part of a larger campaign against what they call “a vein of toxicity” running through the company.

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