Amazon is reportedly nudging customer service employees to work from home as it looks to close some of its US-based offices as part of a cost-cutting effort.
The e-commerce giant plans to shut down “multiple” call centers throughout the US in a bid to trim its real estate expenses, Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. A call center in Kennewick, Wash., is said to be among the locations tabbed for closure.
Amazon, which is valued at $1.17 trillion, did not comment on whether it plans to close call centers. However, a company representative confirmed that Amazon is expanding remote work among its customer service employees.
“We’re offering additional members of our Customer Service team the increased flexibility that comes with working virtually,” Amazon spokesperson Brad Glasser said in a statement. “We’re working with employees to make sure their transition is seamless while continuing to prioritize best-in-class support for customers.”
Customer service reps working in Amazon’s call centers represent a small portion of its overall workforce, according to Bloomberg. The company has allowed some call center employees to work from home since before the pandemic-era shift toward remote work.
Amazon has more than 1.5 million employees. Bloomberg noted the increased emphasis on remote work could help Amazon maintain staffing and recruit new customer service workers, since the hiring pool would no longer be anchored to offices.
While many companies have begun pushing their employees to return to the office at least a few days per week, Amazon recently gained attention for taking a more lenient approach.
Earlier this month, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said most of its employees have adopted a hybrid schedule that includes days working from home – and the company does not plan to require otherwise.
“We don’t have a plan to require people to come back,” Jassy said during an appearance at Code Conference, according to CNBC. “We don’t right now. But we’re going to proceed adaptively as we learn.”
Meanwhile, the plan to close call centers and reduce office expenses could hint at Amazon’s effort to improve its balance sheet during the current economic downturn.
At the same conference, Jassy indicated that Amazon would continue hiring, but at a slower pace than it has in recent years.
Amazon has posted a net loss for two straight quarters as it contends with the impact of soaring inflation and a slowdown in sales.
“Despite continued inflationary pressures in fuel, energy, and transportation costs, we’re making progress on the more controllable costs we referenced last quarter, particularly improving the productivity of our fulfillment network,” Jassy said in Amazon’s second-quarter earnings release in July.