Amazon will close all but one of its U.S. call centers and shift hundreds of office employees to remote work in an effort to save on real estate, according to people familiar with the matter.
The call centers planned for shuttering are in Kennewick, Washington; Lexington, Kentucky, and Phoenix, said one of the people, who who asked not to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak about the plans. The call center that remains open will most likely be in Huntington, West Virginia, or Houston, the person said, adding that the plans still could change.
Bloomberg reported Wednesday on Amazon’s plan to shift call-center employees from offices to work from home and close the Kennewick site. An Amazon spokesman declined to comment about any planned office closings, but Wednesday confirmed the shift to remote work.
The retailer has been seeking to reduce expenses as revenue sales growth slows amid rising inflation and economic uncertainty. This year, U.S. online sales will increase 9.4% to $1 trillion, the first time growth has slipped into the single digits, according to Insider Intelligence. The cost-cutting comes after Amazon quickly expanded its warehouses and logistics operations when consumer demand jumped during the early stages of the pandemic.
The pandemic also forced companies to embrace remote work for customer service roles and many employees are resisting efforts to return to offices. Offering work-from-home will help Amazon recruit employees in an industry with high turnover. Its cloud computing division sells Amazon Connect software that helps companies create remote customer service networks.
Customer support employees make up a fraction of the company’s more than 1.5 million workers.