In a recent policy announcement, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy put an end to the ever-looming question of if–and when–staff will return to the office. He stated that the decision will be up to individual teams and that they are to be “guided by what will be most effective for our customers.” But below the surface of the seemingly straightforward policy, it’s a deeply strategic–and genius strategy that involves just three words.
As others center the debate around the question of whether or not it’s safe for staff to return to work, Amazon’s latest policy centers its decision on whether or not it’s effective for staff to remain at home–a key difference that will make a big difference not only for the lives of its over 1.3 million employees, but for Amazon’s over 300 million active users worldwide.
And not for reasons most would think.
In Jassy’s recent post, he stated that, “There is no one-size-fits-all approach for how every team works best,” and that, “We’re going to be in a stage of experimenting, learning, and adjusting for a while.” This is in fact, the stage in which Amazon has operated from since its inception.
The three-word strategy, experiment, learn, and adjust ensures continued optimizations–which fuels Amazon’s continued success. And though this is a new application of its old strategy, it will–as always–make Amazon better.
Jassy, Jeff Bezos’ predecessor is known for his people-first leadership style, so not surprisingly, his work from home policy has quickly been met with much praise–and for good reason. Not only does it put an end to having to constantly provide a response with an ever-evolving answer, but it also provides teams with the freedom of choice, and staff with peace of mind. But the benefits do not end at Amazon’s goal to become the world’s best employer. In fact, its just the beginning.
The simple, yet diplomatic policy passes the responsibility of choice to individual teams. It allows the individuals to have the autonomy to dictate how they do their jobs. That is, if they are able to do their jobs–a key caveat.
The genius of Jassy’s new policy isn’t isolated to the freedom to work anywhere and the peace of mind that comes from the security of knowing one can work anywhere. The genius lies within the fact that the policy aligns customers’ needs with staffs’ desires–and through experimenting, learning and adjusting, it has set itself up to continue to do so indefinitely.
Psychologically, when people are given the autonomy to make their own decisions, they become committed to their decision. What’s more, is that they will work to prove that their decision was the right one. This level of conviction is a byproduct of our need to justify our own decisions, and with that, actions.
What this means at Amazon, is that its staff will work much harder to provide great service from the comforts of their own home in an effort to prove their capabilities. Because the only way to create an irrefutable case for one’s ability is to go above and beyond the baseline expectation.
By baking its simple three-word strategy into its employee policy, Jassy created a win-win situation. In doing an incredible job of giving customers what they want, it does this by giving its staff what they need. And in doing so, its providing a clear path for companies of all sizes to do the same.
Amazon didn’t dethrone WalMart and become a trillion-dollar company by thinking like everyone else and doing what everyone else does. The employee policy isn’t just about employees. It’s about customers. And companies that continue to work and evolve to give customer what they want are the companies that–like Amazon–get all the customers they want.