Amazon has issued a strong rebuttal to those who argue that the pandemic spells the death of the office.
The online retailer unveiled plans yesterday to invest $1.4 billion in new office space to accommodate thousands of workers.
It is expanding its physical footprint by 900,000 sq ft across six American cities — New York, San Diego, Denver, Detroit, Phoenix and Dallas. The hubs will accommodate 3,500 new tech and corporate jobs.
The expansion includes creating an office at the Lord & Taylor Building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. It was sold to Amazon by Wework, the serviced office group, and formerly housed the main store of Lord & Taylor, America’s oldest department store chain.
Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer, has already invested billions of dollars in office campuses in the US. At the company’s Seattle headquarters staff can enjoy a botanical garden, breakout areas with games, secluded workspaces and dozens of coffee bars and food stalls run by local businesses.
“These 3,500 new jobs will be in cities across the country with strong and diverse talent pools,” Beth Galetti, senior vice-president of human resources, said. “We look forward to helping these communities grow their emerging tech workforce.”
Amazon employs about 5,000 people at its UK headquarters in east London and has told staff that they can work from home until January 8. The company expects much of its workforce eventually to return to its offices.
“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, told The Wall Street Journal. “We are looking forward to returning to the office.”
Twitter said in May that staff would have the option to work from home indefinitely. Mark Zuckerberg has said he expects about half of Facebook staff to be working remotely in ten years.
British workers have been reluctant to return to the office since Boris Johnson scrapped government guidance that people should work at home if they can. Derwent London, which has offices in Shoreditch, east London, and the West End, said last week that its buildings were 15 per cent full.
PwC, the accountancy firm, said that it was preparing for the “majority” of its 22,000 UK staff to continue to work from home at least part-time even once coronavirus had passed.