Back when most Amazon employees were still working from home, the company began offering a new perk to those who ventured into the offices — free coffee.

As a way to encourage workers to come back to campus, Amazon started a new program that allowed employees one free drink from the coffee shops located inside Amazon’s office buildings in Seattle and elsewhere. Lattes and cappuccinos included.

That perk stayed in place through waves of layoffs, and a shift from remote work to a mandate to be in the office at least three times a week. But, earlier this year, Amazon began quietly placing signs in the cafes announcing the free coffee would dry up. The program was set to end in January.

Less than a month before it was set to end, though, Amazon reversed course and extended the program.

Behind the scenes, roughly 10,000 employees asked Amazon to reconsider, noting that the perk increased productivity, employee morale and the in-person collaboration the company said it was looking for with its return-to-office mandate.

Ending the perk was yet another hit to weary employees who had already faced unexpected layoffs and new work requirements, said two current employees who spoke with The Seattle Times and asked to remain anonymous.

On an internal discussion board, several workers said the decision to take away coffee drinks also had them questioning Amazon’s commitment to be “Earth’s Best Employer,” referencing a 2021 directive from then-CEO Jeff Bezos.

“Free coffee is a small perk that shows employees they are valued,” one worker wrote, according to screenshots shared with The Seattle Times. “The cost of coffee is minor compared to the benefits of happy, energetic employees.”

Amazon said Tuesday it considered a number of factors when it made decisions regarding employee benefits and that it is happy to continue offering free coffee for workers.

Source: Seattle Times

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