Flexible working is important to Amazon employees
Here at Amazon, employees are entrusted to own their development, career and future. The scope and scale of what we do to delight customers will challenge our employees to be resourceful, inventive and flexible while also meeting high standards. But building and delivering world-class innovation is not easy and rarely follows an established or linear career path.
To embrace the challenges presented by modern life, we offer flexible, part-time and remote working to our staff. Whether you’re a parent, carer, pursuing a passion project or in need of adaptations to your working life, we’re committed to supporting the people who deliver remarkable work every day.
That’s why we were delighted to be recognised as Women in Tech’s Female Tech Employer of the Year 2019. Amazon also ranked first in the LinkedIn Top Companies in the UK list, recognising Amazon as the top company, “where UK professionals want to work now”. And we have been ranked number one in Glassdoor’s list of The UK’s Most In-Demand Companies, taking the top spot from Google.
To find out more about flexible, part-time and remote working at Amazon, we caught up with five employees who benefit.
1. Eloise Smith, Group Creative Director, Amazon EU
Flexible working practices open up a pool of diverse talent that otherwise might avoid corporate life.
Eloise recently took up a new role with Amazon where she works four days per week as Group Creative Director for Amazon’s EU cross-channel marketing function, XCM. The role involves creating mass advertising for Amazon across TV, print, digital and radio.
But on the fifth day, Eloise pursues a career as an author. Her debut children’s fiction title is coming out in Spring 2020: “I can’t say too much, except that it’s about sword-fighting, dogs and tunnels.”
“Working four days a week allows me to pursue my side-line in fiction writing. My writing fuels my creativity, and increasingly it’s a non-negotiable part of my life.”
“If it wasn’t for Amazon and the flexible working option, I probably would have gone freelance. I do four days per week of fast-paced, collaborative advertising, followed by a day of quiet writing on my own. That leaves the weekend free for family life and the occasional laundry load."
What is it about Amazon that has made the part-time switch work so well for Eloise?
“Amazon does of course provide tech solutions that help when managing a part-time schedule. However, more than anything it’s their enlightened attitude to flexible working that makes such a huge difference. They value employees for their overall contribution, not just for the number of hours they work. That gives you a fantastic sense that your contribution is worthwhile and recognised.”
2. Wissam Kazan, Chief Technology Officer, Book Depository
I didn’t take full advantage of the benefits of flexible working until I moved to Amazon.
Wissam’s role as Chief Technology Officer for Book Depository, an Amazon subsidiary, means he is involved in the sale and shipping of more than 20 million books globally ever year. His teams are split between London and Madrid, with one team in London and four teams in Madrid.
“I’ve been at Amazon for seven years and worked previously for another tech company. Both employers were good on flexible working, but I didn’t take full advantage of it until I moved to Amazon.”
“Initially I did Fridays at home and encouraged my team to do the same – because I believe others will be encouraged to take up the option if they see their manager doing so. I realised I was much more productive at home, with fewer interruptions, and I was already working over Chime with remote teams. So I was able to get more work done and I had the opportunity to see my family more often, while also cutting down on time spent commuting.““It worked so well that I extended it to Wednesdays and Fridays, which means I get to drop my oldest off at school and spend some quality time with them in the morning. My youngest isn’t at school yet, so at lunchtime we’ll play together. Sometimes, if our nanny can take the kids for lunch, I take my wife for a lunch date – at least once a month!”Wissam credits the emergence of new communication tools for unlocking this extra time with his family. “Most of my work can be done via Chime, video conferencing or over the phone, so I’m always connected.” But for Wissam, everything is about a healthy work-life balance because it, “results in better outcomes both at work and at home. I want to do my best work while also sharing time with my family and experiencing those important ‘first times’ when the kids are growing up.”
3. Frances Russell, VP Softlines
The trust from Amazon, as well as the tech solutions, make working from home so easy.
Frances joined Amazon more than three years ago as a Vice President to create and build the EU Private brands business. Since April this year she has led new business development and sustainability. She currently works across Amazon’s fashion operation, including support for the shoes team, where she works three days a week.
“The flexibility means I can spend more time with my family. I never miss school events and in between I have more down time to see friends – and get into a good book!”
Frances credits Amazon’s approach to flexible and part-time working as a key difference from other employers: “I think the agility and support here is one of the factors that retains great talent. People need flexibility throughout their careers and companies that can offer this will retain their top talent.”
“Whilst other companies have supported me when working part time, the trust from Amazon as well as the tech solutions that make working from home so easy. Chime is a perfect example!”
4. Madeleine Knowles, Senior Manager, Amazon in the Community
Amazon were supportive, not only when I returned from maternity leave but also working to achieve my role in one less day.
Madeleine currently works four days a week managing Amazon’s community programmes, working with teams across Amazon to bring these exciting initiatives and partnerships to life.
Amazon’s community programmes focus on ensuring more children and young adults, especially those from lower-income communities, have the resources and skills they need to build their best and brightest future. Madeleine explained how flexible working was invaluable after the birth of her daughter: “In January I returned from maternity leave to a four-day week, taking Fridays off to look after my daughter. Without flexible working she would be in nursery full time, so it’s great to be able to spend an extra day with her.”
“This is the first time I have used flexible working and it enables me to do nursery drop offs and pickups, balancing my workload with childcare. It was incredibly important for me to spend an extra day with my daughter while also delivering my work to the highest standard.”
Amazon and her manager were supportive from the outset, not only when returning from maternity leave to a four-day week, but also working collaboratively and putting extra resource in place to help her achieve the same role in less time.
Madeleine feels that the option to take up flexible or part-time working makes sense not just for her as an employee, but for Amazon as an employer: “It’s important that people are supported to find a way of working that is best for them. Whether you’re a new parent, requiring an adaptation based on a mobility or disability problem, or committed to a passion project – those aspects should never get in the way of a successful career.”
"For me, flexibility enriches both my career as an employee and Amazon as an employer. It’s a win-win.”
5. Donal Treacy, Strategic Account Management Team Lead
Our customers always want to see progress – and it’s the same for employees.
Donal manages a team of Account Managers in the Amazon Business Marketplace, which involves launching new UK retailers, plus sales coaching with his team and developing frameworks to build success across the team.
For Donal, flexible working empowers him to spend quality time with his family – but it also helps him to maximise his time in the office. “Being out of the house and on a commute before my daughter is even awake, and not home again in the evenings until after she’s gone to bed, means I would miss out on time with her. With flexible and remote working, it means that I can commit 100% to my job without feeling anxious about rushing home. With my previous employers, we did benefit from ad-hoc flexibility but it was never as regular and consistent as Amazon’s approach – despite having the technology to work remotely.”
“The reality is that, without access to remote working, I would be forced to choose between family life and my career with Amazon. But my managers made it clear that they never wanted to see that situation emerge. When I’m not physically present, Amazon has tools like Quip, Chime and VPNs to make life easy. It also helps that Amazon Amplify has introduced new training, so other team members are more conscious in meetings of people dialled in on the phone – that’s a small detail but it helps hugely.”
This article was part of the Chart Your Own Path series and you can read more, such as: Chart Your Path: how to own your career at Amazon.
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