Amazon has told its corporate employees that they can work from home until January 2021, according to new reports. That makes it the latest company to adjust its remote-employee guidance as the tech industry tries to navigate its way through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We continue to prioritize the health of our employees and follow local government guidance. Employees who work in a role that can effectively be done from home are welcome to do so until January 8th,” an Amazon spokesperson told The Verge. “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.”
However, Amazon’s warehouse workforce must continue to report in. Although the company allowed those warehouse workers who feared for their health to take extended unpaid leave, that policy ended May 1 (with some exceptions). Amazon has instituted protective measures in its warehouses, including protective gear and temperature checks, but has found itself embroiled in controversy over its steps nonetheless.
Amazon isn’t alone in its policy for corporate workers. For instance, Apple is reportedly slowing down its plans to reintroduce employees to its offices, while Snap has extended its remote-work policy from early September through January (and potentially beyond). And Google has made it clear that most of its employees will be working from home for quite some time into the future.
Even after these companies re-open, many of the perks and benefits that require face-to-face contact (such as cafeterias and gyms) will be closed in order to limit potential infection.
In the longer term, some companies have decided to make the majority of their employees work from home permanently. Both Twitter and Facebook plan on doing so; in Twitter’s case, only a limited number of employees will need to find their way into a physical office every day. In Facebook’s case, employees will be able to work from anywhere—but they might have to take a pay cut to work in a location with a lower cost of living.
“It’s clear that COVID has changed a lot about our lives, and that certainly includes the way that most of us work,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees during a staff meeting. “Coming out of this period, I expect that remote work is going to be a growing trend as well.”
For technologists who live in areas with a high cost of living, a long-term trend toward remote work could prove enormously beneficial. Dice’s own analysis has found that the high expense of Silicon Valley stretches even the fattest tech paycheck to the absolute breaking point, for example. Being able to do the same job from the Midwest or the South could result in happier (and more productive) employees.
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