Amazon Defies Trend By Increasing Physical Office Footprint

August 19, 2020

At a time when companies are ramping up their digital footprints and taking their workers online, retailing giant Amazon is doing just the opposite, announcing it will be expanding its physical offices in six U.S. cities.

“The ability to connect with people, the ability for teams to work together in an ad hoc fashion—you can do it virtually, but it isn’t as spontaneous,” Ardine Williams, vice president of workforce development at Amazon, told The Wall Street Journal. “We are looking forward to returning to the office.”

Amazon, headquartered in Seattle, announced it plans to add 3,500 corporate jobs and 900,000 square feet of office space in New York, Phoenix, San Diego, Denver, Detroit, and Dallas.

Amazon’s physical expansion veers from other tech leaders. For example, in May, Facebook Inc. said it would be moving to a mostly remote workforce over the next decade. Twitter employees have been told they can work from home permanently.

While some companies have been satisfied with worker productivity during the work-from-home transition, others are noticing challenges. For example, some companies have expressed concern in training new workers, collaborating, and lengthier timelines to complete some projects by working from home, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Paving the way for Amazon to get its workers back in the office, the company announced it would be expanding its footprint in New York City. Amazon purchased a historic building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, which it reportedly bought from WeWork for more than $1 billion. The office is scheduled to open in 2023.

Urban locations are continuing to remain important to Amazon’s company structure in attracting talent pools, Williams told The Wall Street Journal. Williams says the company expects professionals to continue to move to urban work environments, even after the pandemic.

Williams acknowledged the challenges of making forecasts in how employees will return to office spaces after the COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon is currently allowing its staff to work from home until Jan. 8.

Amazon employs more than 602,000 in the U.S. The company reported $88.9 billion in sales for the quarter ending June 30—its new record high.

Amazon Bests on Office-Based Work With Expansion in Major Cities,” The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 18, 2020) [Log-in required.]