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Amazon plans return to "office-centric culture" by fall

"A Shot of Hope": Returning to school & work
"A Shot of Hope": Returning to school and work 13:43

Amazon plans to have its headquarters employees return to the office by fall as the tech giant transitions away from the remote work it implemented for many workers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company had previously given its return-to-office date as June 30, but questions remained as to whether the company would allow some of its 60,000 Seattle-area office employees to continue working from home part-time.

The Seattle Times reports the company told employees Tuesday it is planning a "return to an office-centric culture as our baseline."

Amazon and Microsoft were among the first large companies to mostly shutter their main offices in the Seattle area during the first COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020.

Microsoft had previously said it would begin allowing workers who are interested back to its suburban Seattle global headquarters on March 29. The announcement came as Microsoft released its Work Trend Index on March 22. The study, which examined how the pandemic has changed the nature of work at all kinds of companies around the U.S., found that 73% of workers surveyed want flexible remote work options to continue.

Women and work: Staying in the workforce during the pandemic 05:32

Seattle-based Zillow announced last summer that it would give its roughly 5,400 employees nationwide the option to work remotely for good.

Vaccinations encouraged, but not required

Amazon will not require office workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine before they return, but the company is encouraging employees and contractors to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible, according to Amazon spokesperson Jose Negrete.

CBS News heard from more than 40 Fortune 500 companies on their back-to-the-office efforts. Some have already started returning to work spaces — protective gear and social distancing in place. 

Several companies have also indicated they're encouraging employees to get vaccinated when they're eligible, 3M included. The Minnesota-based company said it's actively helping workers and communities access the vaccine through public health and on-site vaccination drives when possible. In Illinois and Iowa, Deere has also held several on-site vaccination clinics for employees who want one.

The Business Roundtable has partnered with the Biden administration and others on the "Move the Needle" campaign. It's an effort to support the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, which multiple companies are participating in, including Dell. Businesses encouraging vaccinations could make a difference — but only 5% of organizations would require employees to receive a vaccine before returning to work, the Society for Human Resource Management found. 

Will we ever get back to the office? 08:15

Google, according to CBS News' Sacramento affiliate, previously said it won't bring employees back until September, and will test a flexible workweek thereafter where they come into the office only for three days. And Apple reportedly started bringing employees back to its headquarters as early as May last year. 

Neither company responded to a request by CBS Sacramento for comment.

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