People won’t be in offices 100% of the time after Covid

Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy told CNBC in an interview aired Tuesday he believes the coronavirus pandemic may leave a lasting impact on the future of work, with a growing share of employees doing their jobs remotely. 

“I don’t think you’re going to have people coming back to the office 100% of the time the way that they did before,” Jassy told CNBC’s Jon Fortt. “I think there’s going to be some type of hybrid model and I think it will probably differ depending on your job function.”

That possibility has changed how Amazon thinks about hiring, Jassy said. Amazon is now less focused on hiring employees from locations where it has “critical mass,” and can instead recruit workers from any location, as long as they’re able to collaborate with other teams, he said.

In a post-pandemic world, employees who can work productively from home will continue to do so, but they’ll still make trips to the office when they need to work on some projects, Jassy said. That will most likely cause office buildings to evolve to focus on collaboration and meeting spaces.

“My suspicion is that a lot of these office buildings will start to evolve from being optimized for individual offices or cube space to being hot offices where you decide which day you’re going to come in and then you reserve a desk,” Jassy said.

Amazon has signaled during the coronavirus pandemic that it expects office-based work to return in the near future. In August, Amazon said it will expand its physical offices in six major U.S. cities, including Dallas, Detroit, Denver, New York, Phoenix and San Diego, which amounts to 900,000 square feet of new office space. It will add about 3,500 corporate jobs as a result of the move.

Other tech companies have doubled down on remote work. Twitter and Square employees are allowed to work from home “forever,” while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has predicted half of the company’s employees could be working remotely within the next five to 10 years. Amazon told staff who can work remotely to do so through June 2021.  

Speeding up cloud adoption

Beyond altering the future of work, Jassy said the pandemic sped up adoption of cloud computing. More businesses have become dependent on cloud computing services, since most of their employees are working remotely.

The shift has led to a surge in demand for these services from the likes of Amazon, Microsoft and Google. 

Many enterprises have thought about moving to the cloud for several years, but the pandemic was the final push they needed to make the shift, Jassy said. 

“I mean if you look at the history of the cloud, I have a feeling that the pandemic will have accelerated cloud adoption in the enterprise by a few years,” he added.

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