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Amazon to staff: Come into the office – it'd be a shame if something happened to your promotion

We know who's been naughty and who's been nice, says box-shifting-cum-cloud-computing biz

Amazon is warning employees they risk undermining their own promotion prospects unless they return to the office (RTO) for three days a week, as was mandated by CEO Andy Jassy months ago.

The tweak to the promotions policy, spotted by Insider, means that corporate workers must get VP level approval if they can't come into the office or risk the ire of their boss for non-compliance.

"Managers own the promotion process, which means it is their responsibility to support your growth through regular conversations and stretch assignments, and to complete all required inputs for promotion," according to an internal announcement that leaked.

"If your role is expected to work from the office 3+ days a week and you are not in compliance, your manager will be made aware and VP approval will be required," the missive adds.

In February Amazon called staff back to the office telling them they'd have to be on-site for three days a week from May 1. Jassy said engineers worked better together in-person, fostering an atmosphere of innovation.

"Invention is often sloppy. It wanders and meanders and marinates. Serendipitous interactions help it, and there are more of those in-person than virtually," he said at the time.

Some staff weren't impressed and around 10 percent of the 300,000 mandated to return to the office signed a petition in protest, including those that joined in the pandemic as fully fledged remote workers.

In July, Amazon told staff to relocate to the nearest hub, and those who refused were then directed to take a voluntary resignation package. The following month, Amazon told employees it was tracking their attendance records and knew who was and wasn't adhering to the RTO mandate. Managers were also informed they could lay off those flouting the rule.

A spokesperson for Amazon sent us a statement: "Promotions are one of the many ways we support employees' growth and development, and there are a variety of factors we consider when determining an employee's readiness for the next level. Like any company, we expect employees who are being considered for promotion to be in compliance with company guidelines and policies."

The Reg has covered many instances of tech businesses forcing staff back into the office, from Meta and Google, to Zoom, Roblox, IBM, Salesforce, and more. The general sentiment is that working from home does not dampen worker productivity.

Yet managers and more senior execs like the traditional set-up where they are more comfortable, when they can see their employees, dubbed by some as the "productivity paranoia" syndrome.

Speakers at the Canalys Channel Forum in 2021 warned that bias towards office staff could ultimately cost employers as their best employees leave for a more flexible employer. Ironically, Dell was among those supporting more flexible work, but has itself since rowed back on that commitment. ®

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