Andy Jassy isn't sold on Steve Cohen's four-day workweek

It’s a theory recently floated by hedge fund titan and billionaire New York Mets owner, Steve Cohen, and in a post-pandemic world where workers expect flexibility, it’s a necessary new expectation to establish.

Cohen told Andrew Ross Sorkin earlier this month during a CNBC Squawk Box appearance that because he believes Fridays will soon be dedicated to leisure, he’s investing in golf.

Jassy was asked about the four-day proposal by Sorkin during an interview with CNBC this week, but was unwilling to subscribe to the paired-back approach.

“My own view is that I think we’re on a journey and we still don’t know yet where we’re going to end up,” Jassy said.

“What I’ve noticed since we’ve gotten people back in the office at least three times a week is that the collaboration is much better.”

The Harvard University alumni then rolled out some of his well-versed notions on office participation, telling Sorkin: “The way you innovate, it’s not like you schedule an hour and you innovate and you invent something and you’re done. It’s messy, it’s meandering, it’s wandering, it often takes 90 minutes.

“When you’re done, you don’t quite get there and two people get on a whiteboard and work it out after the meeting.”

Sound familiar? It’s a paraphrase of Jassy’s 2022 letter to shareholders, and updates on the company’s return to office mandate.

“The collaboration is better. The innovation is better. People understand the culture better,” 56-year-old Jassy continued.

Amazon has always had a clear idea of what its culture looks like, starting with the Bezos-coined “customer obsession.” Another longstanding principle is staff ownership, where staff act on behalf of their own team.

“They never say ‘that’s not my job’,” Amazon’s blog reads.

Reinforcing this culture is easier now the team—headquartered in Seattle—is in the office, said Jassy: “They’re more connected to one another. And I just noticed that we’ve kind of gotten back to our culture more since we’ve been back in the office.”

The benefits of a shorter week depend on who you are

Trials of shorter working weeks have garnered mixed results for those involved.

For example in 2022, 61 U.K. companies took part in a four-day week trial in the world’s biggest pilot to date.

According to research published a year later, 89% are still operating the policy with 51% of companies involved making it a permanent policy.

The study, carried out by experts at the University of Cambridge, the University of Salford, Boston College and research firm Autonomy, also found 100% of managers and CEOs said a four-day week had a ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ impact on their company.

On the flip side, a report published this month by the Welsh Labour government found reduced working weeks may widen inequalities already existing in the workforce, pointing out: “Given the different gender, race and other characteristics of different workforces in the public sector, there is potential for negative and differential impacts on particular protected characteristics.”

Other flaws, the report found, include a rise in undeclared hours worked and a higher intensity during work hours.

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