Amazon announced Thursday that it would delay a return to the office for its corporate employees to at least 2022 while still demanding that its workers in factories report to work.
“We will continue to follow local government guidance and work closely with leading medical health care professionals, gathering their advice and recommendations as we go forward to ensure our workspaces are optimized for the safety of our teams,” the company said in a statement obtained by The Wall Street Journal.
The company, which relies on workers at their massive fulfillment centers, also announced that workers in these warehouses would have to wear masks starting on Monday in order to prevent the spread of the Delta variant.
The Journal pointed out that the move is a shift from its current policy that generally allows employees who are vaccinated to ditch the masks. Amazon reportedly said that it hopes that the mask requirement only lasts a few weeks.
The Journal reported that Amazon was already planning a new strategy for their workers’ return to the office and has not mandated staffers to be vaccinated.
The Seattle Times reported that Amazon’s decision to delay its return to the offices in Seattle raised “fresh questions about the pace of recovery in Seattle.”
Cajeton Mendonca, who owns three Saffron Spice food trucks in the city, told the paper that his employees “were looking to come back and work and now I have to tell them ‘no.’’
The Trends Journal has reported extensively on how damaging work-from-home employment has been for the economy in major cities throughout the U.S. (See “OFFICE WORKERS’ SLOW RETURN ENDANGERS LANDLORDS, CITY FINANCES.”)
One truck unloader at an Amazon facility told The Times that it is “frustrating” that the company would “protect their corporate workers [as] opposed to continually supporting warehouse associates.”
TREND FORECAST: The Trends Journal has reported extensively on the move to remote working and the effect it will have on commercial real estate. (See: “WORK FROM HOME=CITY REAL ESTATE DOWN,” and “REMOTE WORK=COMMERCIAL BUST.”)
The more people who work remotely, the further commercial real estate prices will fall. In turn, businesses and transportation systems that relied on commuters will economically suffer, as will the workforce once employed in those sectors.
The shift to working at home will redefine economic ecosystems, especially in urban centers. Commuters buy lunch, gifts, clothes, gadgets, and other items in locales where they work; as workers stay home, downtown stores and restaurants will lose their traditional customer base and gas stations along commuter routes will see business plummet.
At the same time, owners of commercial real estate will face a reckoning as they slash rents to lure a shrinking base of tenants, forcing them to demand property tax concessions from cities that will struggle even more to maintain police, fire, and public works infrastructures.