Amazon encourages call center staff to work from home, plans closures

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Amazon.com Inc. is encouraging customer service employees in some call centers in the United States to work from home, signaling the company’s preference for remote work in certain roles that would help save money on real estate, according to people familiar with the matter.

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The change is part of a plan to close several call centers across the country, including one opened in 2005 in Kennewick, Washington, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because she is not wasn’t allowed to talk about the plans. .

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An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on the planned closures, but confirmed the shift to remote working.

“We are offering additional members of our customer service team the increased flexibility that comes with virtual work,” Amazon spokesman Brad Glasser said in an email. “We are working with employees to ensure their transition is smooth while continuing to prioritize best-in-class customer support.”

The pandemic has forced companies to embrace remote working for customer service roles and many employees are resisting efforts to return to offices. Before the pandemic, up to 90% of the approximately three million customer service representatives in the United States visited call centers. After the pandemic, about half of them are expected to work from home and the other half to go to the office, according to Jeff Christofis, who oversees the contact center unit at recruiting giant Kelly Services.