Amazon Return To Office Mandate, And What’s Happening With Amazon Stock?

Key takeaways

  • Amazon employees will have to return to the office for at least three days per week starting May 1
  • The company’s stock has been falling since the start of the month, though experts have primarily attributed it to the lukewarm outlook for the new fiscal year
  • The RTO order likely negatively affected Amazon’s stock price, but with so many other factors at play, it’s difficult to blame it entirely

In an update shared on Amazon’s website last Friday, CEO Andy Jassy announced a return to office (RTO) mandate for employees effective May 1. Amazon joins Disney as more blue chips consider requiring their employees to return to in-person work.

Amazon stock has been slowly dropping since the beginning of February 2022, and the full effect of the RTO order remains unknown. It comes two weeks after Amazon released mixed fourth-quarter earnings and one month after the e-commerce giant announced it would lay off 18,000 employees. We’ll dive into the update and the current state of Amazon stock.

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The RTO mandate

On February 17, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy released an update informing employees that most of them would need to work from an Amazon office at least three days per week starting May 1. Jassy cited the sense of community, higher levels of engagement and a greater willingness to ask questions as reasons for the order.


Working in person, Jassy argued, is particularly useful for new workers, who can be more attuned to company culture and develop relationships with established employees who act as mentors. “Our culture has been one of the most critical parts of our success the first 27 years, and I expect it will be in our next 27+ years as well,” Jassy wrote.

Jassy also argued that being side-by-side with coworkers helps with innovation and collaboration. He believes it’s easier to identify with people you meet in real life and quickly build on ideas, essential parts of brainstorming and execution.

“Some of the best inventions have had their breakthrough moments from people staying behind in a meeting and working through ideas on a whiteboard or walking back to an office together on the way back from the meeting,” Jassy wrote.

Though Amazon has yet to finalize the details for implementing the mandate, the company plans to be flexible as it brings thousands of its employees back from remote work.

Communities with Amazon offices in the Pacific Northwest, Virginia and Nashville may materially benefit from the mandate, Jassy suggested, as more people leave their homes for work.

Response and AMZN price drop

Disney CEO Bob Iger shares Jassy’s opinion. Last month, Iger announced an RTO order for four in-person days per week. The reasoning is the same, revolving around community and productivity, but employees at neither company seem entirely convinced.

Thousands of employees gave input through petitions and Slack channels opposing the mandate. Remote work is popular with many employees, who cite higher productivity and better work-life balance.

Some are worried about proximity bias or favoritism toward the people you’re close with. Some employees are nervous that if they stay remote, Amazon will let them go faster in the event of further job cuts.

Amazon stock dipped on February 17, 2023, with the price dropping over a dollar within the early hours of trading. The stock started the day at $97.80 and ended at $97.20. It’s possible that investors sold shares of Amazon stock in opposition to the order or were worried the order signaled an unwillingness to let go of old habits.

However, there’s been a lot of activity in Amazon stock in the last month, so determining how much blame to place on the RTO mandate is difficult.

Mixed fourth-quarter earnings cause a tumble

Amazon released its fourth-quarter earnings for 2022 on February 2, 2023, and the numbers left analysts with mixed feelings. On the one hand, Amazon beat expectations for revenue, bringing in $149.2 billion in net sales, about $4 billion more than expected.

On the other hand, Amazon Web Services came in below expectations, bringing in almost $500 million less than expected. The company also gave lighter-than-expected guidance, anticipating between $121 billion and $126 billion in net sales during the first quarter of 2023.

Amazon, along with most tech companies, had a difficult 2022. Inflation and rising interest rates put pressure on consumers, leading to Amazon stock losing almost 50% of its value in one year. These details overshadowed the surprise in net sales, and the stock tumbled from $112.91 on Tuesday to $103.39 on Wednesday.

Walmart earnings cast a shadow

Like Amazon, Walmart’s fourth-quarter earnings, released on February 21, 2023, beat expectations but were overshadowed by other news. The holiday quarter’s revenue exceeded analyst expectations at $164 billion. This surprise, however, couldn’t keep investors from noticing the lukewarm guidance for Walmart’s next fiscal year.

Walmart anticipates same-store sales to increase between 2% and 2.5%, less than the 3% analysts expected. Discretionary spending is still limited, even if the inflation rate has slowed.

The release of Walmart’s earnings and outlook may have affected Amazon stock, as investors reacted to the grocery and retail companies’ tepid expectations for the upcoming year.

Amazon stock jumps on One Medical purchase

Amazon stock made big moves midday today, rising 1.28% after closing a $3.9 billion deal with healthcare provider One Medical. This deal is significant as Amazon moves into the healthcare sector, adopting roughly 200 doctors’ offices and 185,000 One Medical members through the sale.

With all this activity surrounding Amazon, isolating the effect of the RTO mandate may not be possible. As news emerges around the mandate, its execution and employees’ reactions to it, we’ll watch how Amazon stock reacts. Considering remote work’s popularity, we won’t be surprised if Amazon adjusts its current order to accommodate employees.

How should investors proceed?

There’s no denying that Amazon stock has been on a downward trend over the last year. With an anticipated slowdown in retail spending in 2023, the short-term outlook for the stock might not be optimistic. However, in the long run, it’s possible that investors could weather this current storm and see good returns.

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The bottom line

Amazon announced a return to office mandate last Friday, with CEO Andy Jassy arguing the change would increase innovation and bolster the company’s community. Employees met the decision with widespread backlash, and Amazon stock has continued to slip.

Between the tech sector’s disappointing 2022, a mixed fourth-quarter earnings report from Amazon and disappointing news from rival companies, it’s difficult to tell how much the RTO order is to blame for the recent price dips.

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