Amazon postpones employees’ return-to-office date till 2022

Amazon.com Inc. is delaying a return to the office until early January, four months later than originally planned.

The e-commerce giant disclosed the move to workers Thursday, and confirmed it in an email to MarketWatch. Amazon AMZN, +0.63% had previously sought an office reopening in early September, but adjusted plans based on local government health guidance.

The Seattle-based company stopped short of mandating vaccinations when workers come back next year. Google parent Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, +0.83% GOOG, +0.67%, Microsoft Corp. MSFT and Facebook Inc. FB, +1.13% are requiring proof of vaccination for returning office workers.

“We require employees to wear masks in our offices, with the exception of those who have verified full vaccination; fully vaccinated employees are also welcome to continue wearing face coverings,” an Amazon spokesman said in an email.

Some of tech’s biggest names — including Google and Uber Technologies Inc. UBER, +3.01% — have delayed reopening their offices to mid- and late-October from early September because of a spike in cases and hospitalizations from the COVID Delta variant. Lyft Inc. LYFT, +5.83% went even farther out, pushing its office reopening to February 2022.

When Amazon employees return to the office, it will be under a hybrid model the company announced in June, allowing employees to work from home two days a week.

That decision, and Amazon’s postponement of an office reopening to early 2022, are tacit acknowledgments that many employees are reluctant to return to the office full-time. Half of Gen Z employees say they’ll ditch their job if they’re not given a hybrid work option, according to a new study commissioned by workspace-technology company Kettle Inc. of 1,000 U.S. Gen Z employees. Also, 65% said hybrid is “important” when considering a potential employer and nearly 70% said they’d pick an employer who offered hybrid work over one who didn’t, the Kettle study found.

“Employees in general don’t want to go back to the office full-time — whether tech or any industry,” Nick Iovacchini, chief executive of Kettle, told MarketWatch of the study that included Silicon Valley workers. “The future is clearly hybrid, and the construct between employee-employer has changed.”

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