News Updates

Amazon’s RTO drama

August 11, 2023
Happy Friday! There’s plenty of dialogue about why you shouldn’t switch seats on an airplane when someone asks, but here’s why it might be a good move.


Today’s big story tackles another popular online debate: remote vs. in-office work. More on one tech giant’s struggle rolling out an RTO policy.


What’s on deck:

But first, have you been to the office recently?
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RTO = Resentment, terror, outrage



What’s the most offensive thing you can say to a white-collar worker?

Return to office.

Across the country, companies are calling employees back to the office. But what was a reasonable request just a few years ago is now viewed as blasphemous by some workers.

Perhaps the best example of the drama surrounding RTO policies is Amazon.

The tech giant’s attempt to get employees back to the office at least three days a week has been tumultuous, to put it mildly. A petition against Amazon’s RTO policy was signed by some 30,0000 employees, but the company hasn’t budged on its stance.

Eugene Kim, Insider’s resident Amazon expert, has another update on the company’s ongoing RTO saga.

Some Amazon staff received an email warning about their office-attendance records. Further complicating matters was the fact some employees say they got the email in error since they were already complying with the policy.

The email has also raised concerns among employees about the possibility of Amazon tracking individual office-attendance records, despite previously saying it saved only “anonymized” data.

The entire episode left some employees outraged, Eugene reports.

“Is this supposed to scare people?” one employee wrote in an internal Slack channel.

The reality, though, is that the remote work revolution launched as a result of the pandemic is crashing back down to Earth, Insider’s Jacob Zinkula writes.

Simply put: People are less productive when they work from home.

A study from economists at MIT and UCLA found productivity fell by 18% when people worked from home.

And before you say you’re actually more productive at home, understand the research tells a different story. The study also found workers who prefer being remote are 27% less productive at home than at the office.

If that isn’t enough to convince you to make the commute to the office, consider this take from a former tech leader. Brandon Southern, who worked at eBay, GameStop, and Amazon, said there are just too many benefits remote workers miss out on from not being in the office.

Whether it’s collaborating, accidental eavesdropping, or getting face time with leaders, there are elements to in-office work that don’t translate across Zooms and Slacks, Brandon argues.


3 things in markets

Before the opening bell: US stock futures are down early Friday as investors digest earnings and the latest US inflation data.
Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
  1. Inflation ticked up in July. The Consumer Price Index saw a 3.2% year-over-year increase in July, slightly lower than what was forecasted. Meanwhile, CPI’s month-over-month increase was 0.2%, which “represents the kind of progress needed to get inflation down,” Greg McBride, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst, said in a commentary.
  2. A real-estate crisis is brewing in China. Country Garden, a massive Chinese property developer, missed interest payments on two bonds, giving it a 30-day grace period to avoid an official default. But industry experts are worried a default would be even worse than Evergrande’s 2021 collapse that sent the global markets into mayhem.
  3. The life of a Goldman Sachs intern. A summer analyst detailed her experience, from the type of work she did to where she liked to grab lunch, during her nine-week internship at the prestigious investment bank.
3 things in tech
  1. Meta would like some of its former employees back. After cutting 25% of its workforce via multiple rounds of layoffs, the tech giant has rehired dozens of workers. But the cutting hasn’t completely stopped for Zuckerberg, as the charitable foundation he runs with his wife Priscilla Chan conducted its first layoff in what one worker called a “bloodbath.” The layoffs come as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative undergoes a major change in strategy, according to leaked emails.
  2. The top tech executive at the world’s largest hedge fund is leaving for Microsoft. Igor Tsyganskiy, CTO and president at Bridgewater, is joining the tech giant as its chief strategy officer of security. He’ll be tasked with creating a blueprint for Microsoft’s $20 billion security division.
  3. EV growth is about to stall. The market for electric vehicles is set to plateau as the industry runs out of eager early adopters, according to some analysts. Making the jump to more average and practical car-buyers is the next big hurdle, and it won’t be easy.
3 things in business
Burak Cingi/Redferns; Mick Hutson/Redferns; Todd Owyoung/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images; iStock; Rebecca Zisser/Insider
  1. Music stars cashed in on $200 million in pandemic taxpayer cash. The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant was established to help arts organizations affected by the pandemic. But an Insider investigation found Post Malone, Chris Brown, and Nickelback were among the musicians that ended up nabbing millions of dollars in federal grants.
  2. LexisNexis doesn’t want AI bots touching its data. The company has started warning customers against sharing its legal data with AI bots in a bid to protect its high-quality, proprietary content.
  3. Disney+ is getting more expensive, and you might not be able to share passwords soon. Taking a page out of Netflix’s book, Disney plans to explore a crackdown on password-sharing in 2024 in addition to another round of price increases for some plans. It’s a sign of how the great streaming giveaway is over.

Shark attacks, Taylor Swift, & more

  • Clarence Thomas reportedly went on even more undisclosed luxury trips. The Supreme Court Justice took at least 38 additional premium vacations that he did not disclose, according to a ProPublica report.
  • Getting pregnant in space might be a bad idea. With space tourism on the rise, people are bound to try and join the 250-mile-high club. But the radiation in space could harm a freshly fertilized egg cell, researchers say.
  • Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water… A shark attack at a New York City beach on Monday is an example of the uptick in bites in the state.
  • Even the Pope is worried about AI. Pope Francis called for an open dialogue about AI because it’s “endowed with disruptive possibilities.”
  • Taylor Swift is releasing her fourth rerecorded album. The star announced “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” will drop October 27.
  • A lifeline for San Francisco’s commercial real-estate market: AI companies. The city saw a 10.2% increase in demand for office space last quarter, and experts are crediting the AI boom.

Hip hop, Woz, and the Moon


Shipwreck-turned-military station

Erik De Castro/Reuters
A crumbling World War II-era warship was turned into a military outpost in the South China Sea by the Philippines. Now it’s a flashpoint for US-China relations.
The Insider Today team: Dan DeFrancesco, senior editor and anchor, in New York City. Diamond Naga Siu, senior reporter, in San Diego. Hallam Bullock, editor, in London. Lisa Ryan, executive editor, in New York City.
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