Amazon (AMZN) is looking to close a number of call centers in the U.S. as it shifts workers to work-from-home roles.
The e-commerce giant is encouraging its customer service employees to work from home as part of an effort to cut costs on real estate, sources told Bloomberg.
The call center closures come as Amazon closed, delayed, and canceled plans to open more than 70 warehouse locations throughout the country.
While Bloomberg’s report did not indicate how many call centers would be closing as a result of Amazon’s decision, it mentioned a location in Kennewick, Washington, which opened in 2005 and is now slated to shut down.
Amazon did not confirm the call center closures, but company spokesperson Brad Glasser told the news outlet, “We’re offering additional members of our customer service team the increased flexibility that comes with working virtually. We’re working with employees to make sure their transition is seamless while continuing to prioritize best-in-class support for customers.”
Amazon beefed up its workforce as the pandemic caused mass demand from consumers to shop online, especially for essential items, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to Bloomberg, by offering remote work for customer service jobs, Amazon will be better positioned to deal with turnover while offering employees more flexibility with a greater U.S. reach for workers that is not limited to cities where call centers are located. Plus, its real estate portfolio would shrink considerably as a result of the closures.
Earlier in September, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said at the Code Conference in Los Angeles that the company was allowing both remote and hybrid work options, adding that the majority of the online retailer’s employees have already returned to the office while working some days at home.
“We don’t have a plan to require people to come back,” Jassy said. “We don’t right now. But we’re going to proceed adaptively as we learn.”
Some customer service representatives already work from home, a move that Amazon made before the pandemic. But this comprises a small portion of the more than 1.5 million workers that are currently employed by the company.
As of Thursday premarket hours, shares of Amazon were trading at $115.85, down $2.16, or 1.83%.