Amazon is expanding its offices, hiring: Inside the tech giant’s strategy4 min read . Updated: 15 Sep 2020, 10:42 AM IST
E-commerce giant continues to grow during pandemic, showing commitment to office work
Amazon.com Inc., already one of the world’s largest companies, has hired at a brisk pace even amid the great economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Like other retailers, Amazon encountered an unprecedented wave of orders after lockdowns pushed millions more people toward online shopping, a trend many expect to continue. Retailers like Walmart Inc. and Target Corp., as well as e-commerce companies such as Instacart Inc., also saw immense growth online and hired hundreds of thousands of workers.
But the tech giant’s hiring spree has continued even after the initial coronavirus wave. In August and September, Amazon has announced plans to hire more than 100,000 people for warehouse and fulfillment jobs in the U.S. and Canada and thousands of additional office workers in several cities.
The Seattle-based company has said it still views office spaces in prime city locations as important to its future and is laying the groundwork for its employees to return to the office. It is allowing staff who can work from home to do so until Jan. 8.
Amazon’s perspective on the value of being in the office is in contrast to other companies such as Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. that have embraced virtual work and suggested it will last long after the pandemic subsides.
Here’s more on Amazon’s continued expansion:
Where is Amazon hiring, and for what types of positions?
Amazon is increasing its workforce among both its corporate and noncorporate ranks. Hourly positions are continuously open at its hundreds of warehouses throughout the country, where workers sort, stow and prepare packages for delivery and take in returns. The company pays a minimum wage of $15 an hour, although it did away with certain incentive pay and stock compensation for hourly warehouse and customer-service employees when it changed the pay rate in 2018. Its biggest warehouses used for the bulk of its fulfillment operations are typically located in suburban areas, while smaller delivery centers are placed closer to cities to speed up shipping times.
In its corporate offices, the company is adding software engineers, product managers, cloud infrastructure architects and other roles. Such jobs at Amazon can pay in the six figures. Despite a shift in workplace practices caused by the pandemic, Amazon said it plans to have much of its corporate workforce in offices long-term. This month, the company said it would hire 100,000 new hourly employees in the U.S. and Canada and open 100 operational buildings, including fulfillment centers, delivery stations, sorting centers and other sites. Amazon this month also said it is hiring for 33,000 positions among its corporate ranks. In August, Amazon said it would add thousands of employees in major markets such as New York, Dallas and Phoenix.
How many people does Amazon employ?
Walmart is the only private U.S. company to employ more workers than Amazon. Not including temporary workers the company describes as seasonal, Amazon will have more than one million employees world-wide when accounting for its latest hiring sprees. Its total head count in the U.S. without seasonal employees will exceed 700,000, with roughly 133,000 of those within corporate ranks.
The company added 175,000 warehouse workers in March and April, 125,000 of which it said in May it would keep permanently. Amazon is adding thousands of jobs at offices in New York, Phoenix, San Diego, Denver, Detroit and Dallas. The hiring includes roles across various departments, such as Amazon Web Services, the Alexa virtual-assistant team, advertising and Amazon Fresh.
Why can Amazon hire so much?
Amazon is growing rapidly and has also become quite profitable even during the pandemic. While the company has dominated online shopping for years, the pandemic vastly accelerated the trend of online shopping, giving Amazon record sales. Investors have taken notice, and its market value now exceeds $1.5 trillion.
In 2019, Amazon made more than $280 billion in revenue, a figure that should be easily topped this year. Its nonretail segments, such as its cloud computing and advertising businesses, continue to see fast growth, creating further job opportunities.
Amazon is under regulatory scrutiny. Why?
As Amazon has grown, it has also attracted critics who say it has used its size and market strength in a way that has stifled competition.
Regulators both in the U.S. and abroad are investigating Amazon and other tech companies on antitrust grounds, and some former Democratic presidential contenders have called for the company to be broken up. Amazon’s operations touch numerous industries, including grocery, auto, home surveillance, entertainment and book publishing. While U.S. regulators are focusing on Amazon’s power on its site and in online shopping, politicians, competitors and its own customers have criticized some of the company’s choices and how it uses its size and clout as it has expanded.
Where will Amazon continue adding jobs?
Online retail is expected to remain core to Amazon’s operations. The company has steadily increased distribution capacity closer to customers’ homes. From April to June alone, it spent more than $9 billion in capital projects.
Amazon’s e-commerce business depends not only on warehouse and delivery workers to fulfill the millions of daily orders, but engineers, advertising specialists, product managers and numerous others that are responsible for the efficiency of its website and fulfillment processes. Amazon has indicated it will continue to fill such positions and even retrain a large percentage of its current workforce for technical roles it has deemed essential to its future.
Write to Sebastian Herrera at Sebastian.Herrera@wsj.com