Amazon CEO sparks backlash for telling remote workers it’s ‘not going to work’ for them: ‘Big tech hypocrisy’

Amazon CEO sparks backlash for telling remote workers it’s ‘not going to work’ for them: ‘Big tech hypocrisy’

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy has sparked backlash after reportedly telling his remote workers - who disagree with the company’s in-office mandate - that it’s “not going to work out for” them.

Jassy, 55, showed his support for his return-to-office mandate, which requires most corporate workers at Amazon to be in office three days a week, during a recent company meeting, as reported by Insider. His comments came months after he first announced the policy, sparking immense backlash on social media from remote workers.

During the internal chat last week, Jassy was asked to share data that supported his return-to-office policy. However, instead of offering that information, he reportedly called the in-office mandate a “judgement call”.

He also addressed the backlash surrounding his policy, with claims that employees’ jobs at Amazon “wouldn’t work out” if they continued to disagree with the return-to-office mandate.

“It’s past the time to disagree and commit,” Jassy claimed. “And if you can’t disagree and commit, I also understand that, but it’s probably not going to work out for you at Amazon because we are going back to the office at least three days a week, and it’s not right for all of our teammates to be in three days a week and for people to refuse to do so.”

On X, formerly known as Twitter, many people have criticised Jassy for his policy, with claims that he may not even work in the office himself. Others poked fun at what could happen if workers opted to leave Amazon amid the controversy.

“Big Tech hypocrisy. Work from anywhere, except if you work for us,” one person wrote.

“The ‘disagree and commit’...the leadership team tries to brainwash us into when we start should be changed to ‘shut up and obey’ instead,” another added. “Andy Jassy is such a clown that needs to stop trying to hang onto what little hair he has left.”

A third quipped: “Andy Jassy, making Jeff Bezos nightmare about running out of people willing to work for Amazon a reality. Gonna be interesting to watch this big an empire fold. Who has the popcorn?”

One person on X went on to criticise Jassy’s “disagree and commit” comment, claiming that it “has become exec-speak” for “do what I want or I will fire you”. He also added that Jassy’s comment could “cost him some good people and hurt Amazon in the long-term”.

“Disagree and commit has been abused by HiPPOs (highest paid person’s opinion) to now mean do what I say regardless of all the data against it and in the face of widespread opposition. That’s the opposite of what disagree and commit is supposed to mean,” the post reads. “Andy Jassy should know better. This isn’t what this leadership principle means. You don’t get to railroad teams into doing whatever you want regardless of what they think or what the data says and then say, ‘disagree and commit’. That’s not how any of this is supposed to work.”

Back in February, Jassy announced in a post that Amazon corporate workers would go have to go to the office three days a week following a work-from-home model during the pandemic. He also explained how he and his team came to the decision to introduce the policy, which went into effect on 1 May.

“There is something about being face-to-face with somebody, looking them in the eye, and seeing they’re fully immersed in whatever you’re discussing that bonds people together,” he wrote. “Teams tend to find ways to work through hard and complex trade-offs faster when they get together and map it out in a room.”

In March, approximately 30,000 Amazon corporate workers had signed a petition to immediately cancel Jassy’s return-to-office plan. However, Beth Galetti, Amazon’s SVP of people experience and technology, later shared a message with employees to reject the petition, as reported by Insider.

“Given the large size of our workforce and our wide range of businesses and customers, we recognise this transition may take time, but we are confident it will result in long-term benefits to increasing our ability to deliver for our customers, bolstering our culture, and growing and developing employees,” Galetti wrote.

When contacted by The Independent, a representative for Amazon referenced to a a summary of answers that were provided during the internal meeting at Amazon. The summary specified that the company “never had data that [they] should work from home,” before describing the benefits of working in-person.

“We did that as a necessity in the middle of the pandemic, and we’ve never really had compelling data that we’re more effective being at home.“When you’re making decisions like this, you have to look at the data that you have available,” the representative for the company explained. “We looked at how we were collaborating, and how we were inventing together. We didn’t feel that meetings were as effective from home as they were before.”