A top Amazon executive recently said he had ‘no data’ to support the company’s return-to-office mandate, prompting criticism from frustrated employees

  • Amazon is known for making decisions based on concrete data.
  • SVP Mike Hopkins told staff he had “no data” to support the decision to return to the office.
  • Some Amazon employees are upset about the company’s new RTO mandate.

Amazon is known for using data to make decisions — except when it forces employees back to work.

Mike Hopkins, SVP of Amazon Video and Studios, was asked if he had any data to share about the company’s recent decision to mandate working from the office during a recent internal staff meeting.

According to an audio recording of the meeting obtained by Insider, Hopkins stated that he had “no data either way” to demonstrate the effectiveness of in-office versus remote work. Instead, he stated that it was critical for employees to return to the office because Amazon CEO Andy Jassy and other top executives believe that “we just do our best work when we’re together.”

Hopkins also mentioned one of Amazon’s leadership principles, which instructs employees to “have backbone, disagree, and commit,” which encourages full commitment once a decision is made, even if some people disagree.

“I believe it is simply time to disagree and commit.” “We’re back, and it’s working,” he said. “I don’t have any data to back this up, but I know it’s better.”

Hopkins’ remarks have added to some Amazon employees’ growing dissatisfaction with the company’s return-to-work mandate. In February, Amazon announced that most employees would be required to begin working in the office at least three times per week, reversing a pledge made last year not to force people back.

Some employees want to return, but it’s a contentious issue at the internet behemoth. As previously reported by Insider, Amazon began requiring employees to relocate near central “hub” offices or take a “voluntary resignation” last month, further infuriating some employees.

Amazon employees took to internal Slack channels after Hopkins’ meeting to express their concerns.

“What embarrassingly poor leadership,” one commenter said.

Another person suspected Amazon of intentionally hiding data and claimed the RTO mandate contradicted the company’s commitment to being “Earth’s best employer.”

One employee said it made no sense that it couldn’t collect any RTO-related data, citing a recent Amazon report with data about increased foot traffic and credit card transactions in Seattle.

“There’s a difference between saying ‘there is no data’ and saying ‘we won’t collect data,'” that person wrote.

Others mocked Amazon’s insistence on adhering to the “disagree and commit” principle, despite the fact that many employees do not believe in it.

“Saying you ‘disagree and commit’ (or asking others to) when there is very little impact on you personally but a significant impact on someone else is not something to be proud of, especially if you’ve done nothing to mitigate that impact,” one of the participants said.

According to another, invoking the “disagree and commit” principle in this case is akin to attempting to “compel compliance while silencing dissent.”

“He’s the one who needs to disagree and commit here,” one of the participants said of Jassy.

Amazon’s spokesperson, Rob Munoz, told Insider that there is “more energy, collaboration, and connections happening” when employees return to the office.

“We’re pleased with how the first few months with more people back in the office have gone.” We’ve heard from many employees and the businesses that surround our offices that there’s more energy, collaboration, and connections going on.”

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