Gee, Ursula question Amazon’s motives as employees are sent back to the office

May 1, 2023, 1:52 PM | Updated: 2:31 pm


People walk past the Amazon Spheres, in Seattle, Washington.(Photo credit should read Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo credit should read Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images)

Monday was the start of a long transition for tens of thousands of Amazon corporate employees to return to the office for at least three days a week in an effort to not only boost company productivity, but the local economy as well.

Not all corporate employees agree with Amazon’s, and specifically CEO Andy Jassy’s, decision.

“It just feels a little bit like corporate overreach, frankly,” one employee told KIRO Newsradio. “If you were doing your work and you were productive doing it in your previous working situation, to now being told to do your work in this specific space three times a week.”

“I think it’s weird that people who don’t work at Amazon are applauding today,” Gee Scott, co-host of The Gee and Ursula Show, said on KIRO Newsradio. “Like, there’s a lot of things that we deal with in this world that doesn’t even concern you.”

Amazon employees return to the office beginning today

Gee cited Jacob Noti-Victor, an economist with the University of Washington, Evans School of Public Policy, who stated if workers really preferred to go to the office, companies wouldn’t have to force them with in-office mandates.

In 2021, 70% of those who worked from home during the pandemic reported virtual meetings are less stressful and 64% now prefer hybrid meetings, according to a report by Owl Labs, stating studies over the past few months show productivity while working remotely from home is better than working in an office setting.

“On average, those who work from home spend 10 minutes less a day being unproductive, work one more day a week, and are 47% more productive,” the report read.

“I do think the whole thing of it is a corporate overreach,” Gee said. “It is. You’re doing your work, and you’ve been excellent, but we want you to get in here and make sure you spend downtown. We need those 55,000 workers to come back. We need downtown Seattle to get back up to par, get those businesses back because it’s only been working at 40%. We need a lot of things. So yes, come on back. But is Amazon losing money?”

Despite the pandemic slowing most industries down, Amazon posted $8.1 billion in profit in 2021, an increase of 220% from the same period in 2020, according to The New York Times. In a 2023 report, the net income for the company was $3.2 billion last quarter, a remarkable swing from the $3.8 billion loss reported in the year-earlier quarter.

“We’ve been talking about trying to return our economy to normal. I’m going to bring it up and I bring it up a lot: Get the City of Seattle and King County government workers to return,” Ursula Reutin, co-host of The Gee and Ursula Show, added. “I saw in the quote in The Seattle Times, the mayor’s office said most of the city’s employees are returning to the office at least twice a week. Well, what’s happening the other three days? And what about King County employees during the pandemic? A third of them work remotely. How many of them are back in the office today? And if they’re still working remotely, what are they doing exactly on those days when they are at home?

Ursula: Amazon targeting ‘younger and less expensive’ coders

“The reason I bring this up is because I’ve lived in Seattle for a long time,” Ursula continued. “I have many friends who work for city and county government. And they tell me we can not get people to come back, even though it would be better for them to come back. And we would be more efficient if they would come back. Why? Because there are labor unions that they have to work with.”

According to Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, the city is slowly regaining visitors to the downtown core despite lacking outside major surges for city-specific events. The Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) cited the city had 2.1 million visitors in November 2022, including the retail industry receiving more than 115,000 visitors, a 6% increase over the previous year.

The city also recorded the lowest amount of crime in a month since June 2021, with just 3,894 crimes logged in September 2022, according to data from the Seattle Police Department (SPD).

“If people cannot be supervised remotely, and you cannot trust what they are doing remotely, can you really supervise them better in person? Because if all these people are literally doing nothing, that is a failure of management. It is an utter failure of management,” Andrew Lanier, the show’s producer, said. “And the only reason you are calling people back into the office, and you are choosing traffic, pollution, and the recovery of downtown’s economy over people’s family lives and their quality of life, it’s because your management is awful. And I don’t believe that those people in the office are going to be any more productive. I think there’s a lot of folks who mail it in just as well in person as they do at home.”

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Gee, Ursula question Amazon’s motives as employees are sent back to the office