Amazon (AMZN) has told staff who are able to work from home that they can do so until at least October, further raising the prospect of a permanent shift towards remote working due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In an email to staff, Amazon management said that “employees who work in a role that can effectively be done from home” are now welcome to do so until 2 October.
“We will continue to evaluate the situation,” the company said, noting that working from its office may become “another option” before then.
In a statement, Amazon confirmed the decision, noting that it had made investments so that those who do choose to work from its offices could remain safe.
It has invested “significant funds” to develop physical distancing, deep cleaning, and temperature check protocols, and has made face masks and hand sanitiser available, Amazon said.
The online shopping giant has faced criticism for the conditions that workers must endure during the pandemic, however.
Last month, Amazon fired two corporate employees who criticised its policies on climate change and publicly condemned the conditions at its warehouses.
Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa said that a lack of safe working conditions put staff and the public at risk during the pandemic.
The company also fired a New York-based warehouse worker who had organised a protest against working conditions.
Amazon said that worker had been fired, not because he organised a protest, but because he refused to stay at home after coming in contact with an employee who had become infected with coronavirus.
The company says it has introduced mechanism to keep its employees safe, and has increased pay for warehouse workers by $2 an hour.
A significant proportion of Amazon employees normally based at offices have been working from home since 12 March.
The company’s global headquarters is located in Seattle in Washington, which is one of the hardest hit US states.
Many large Seattle-based employers told their staff to work from home at the beginning of March, as the scale of the outbreak became apparent.
The sudden shift to working from home for millions of employees across the world could precipitate a permanent shift in working patterns, experts have said.
A significant proportion of firms have already made investments in home-working setups for their employees.