• Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has written a memo addressed to Amazon’s employees in which he outlines a number of steps the company has taken in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.
  • The coronavirus impact has been devastating to the economy, Bezos writes, adding that he hopes people who’ve been laid-off from restaurants and bars, among other jobs, will apply to work at Amazon “until they’re able to go back to the jobs they had.”
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

In a memo addressed to his tens of thousands of workers and posted to the company website over the weekend, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos detailed the series of steps Amazon has taken in response to the global coronavirus crisis — adding that the deadly virus and the part that Amazon can play in responding to it are pretty much the only things he’s focused on right now. And, in addition to spotlighting measures such as Amazon raising the wages of its hourly workers (who are still dutifully manning the warehouses that we’re all ordering from right now) and hiring for 100,000 new roles, Bezos put out a direct call in his memo to the scores of newly-unemployed workers as a result of the virus.

The quarantines and shelter-in-place orders that are multiplying around the country mean no one is patronizing local businesses that range from hotels to bars, retail shops, and restaurants. “We hope people who’ve been laid off will come work with us until they’re able to go back to the jobs they had,” Bezos writes in the letter, which includes this gloomy prognostication about the crisis: “I’m sad to tell you I predict things are going to get worse before they get better.”

Addressing the pervasive fear that the deadly virus has generated around the globe, Bezos admitted to having a long list of personal worries himself. “There is no instruction manual for how to feel at a time like this,” he wrote, adding that his list of worries includes everyone from his children and family to Amazon employees, people who’ve gotten sick because of the virus, and the devastating economic harm that it’s causing.

Image source: AP/Shutterstock

The publication of the memo comes just days after a quartet of US Senators including Bernie Sanders wrote to Amazon asking that the company provide better protections and wages for its warehouse workers. Also this month, Amazon workers sent around a petition of their own demanding better “protective measures” as well as paid leave.

Here’s the text of Bezos’ memo, in full:

Dear Amazonians,

This isn’t business as usual, and it’s a time of great stress and uncertainty. It’s also a moment in time when the work we’re doing is its most critical.

We’ve changed our logistics, transportation, supply chain, purchasing, and third party seller processes to prioritize stocking and delivering essential items like household staples, sanitizers, baby formula, and medical supplies. We’re providing a vital service to people everywhere, especially to those, like the elderly, who are most vulnerable. People are depending on us.

I’m not alone in being grateful for the work you are doing. I’ve received hundreds of emails from customers and seen posts on social media thanking you all. Your efforts are being noticed at the highest levels of government, and President Trump earlier this week thanked this team profusely.

Across the world, people are feeling the economic effects of this crisis, and I’m sad to tell you I predict things are going to get worse before they get better. We’re hiring for 100,000 new roles and raising wages for our hourly workers who are fulfilling orders and delivering to customers during this period of stress and turmoil. At the same time, other businesses like restaurants and bars are being forced to shut their doors. We hope people who’ve been laid off will come work with us until they’re able to go back to the jobs they had.

Much of the essential work we do cannot be done from home. We’ve implemented a series of preventative health measures for employees and contractors at our sites around the world — everything from increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning to adjusting our practices in fulfillment centers to ensure the recommended social distancing guidelines. We are meeting every day, working to identify additional ways to improve on these measures.

We’ve placed purchase orders for millions of face masks we want to give to our employees and contractors who cannot work from home, but very few of those orders have been filled. Masks remain in short supply globally and are at this point being directed by governments to the highest-need facilities like hospitals and clinics. It’s easy to understand why the incredible medical providers serving our communities need to be first in line. When our turn for masks comes, our first priority will be getting them in the hands of our employees and partners working to get essential products to people.

My own time and thinking is now wholly focused on COVID-19 and on how Amazon can best play its role. I want you to know Amazon will continue to do its part, and we won’t stop looking for new opportunities to help.

There is no instruction manual for how to feel at a time like this, and I know this causes stress for everyone. My list of worries right now — like yours I’m sure — is long: from my own children, parents, family, friends, to the safety of you, my colleagues, to those who are already very sick, and to the real harm that will be caused by the economic fallout across our communities.

Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones. I know that we’re going to get through this, together.

Jeff

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.