So Long & Thx for All the Bananas

After just over 7 years, Friday was my last day with Amazon. I got to work with some fantastic people (thanks and cheers to all the good/real ones!) and loved lending my creative juices to some fun projects/products.

That being said, I left because I learned a lot about myself (as I’m sure many of us did) during the height of the pandemic especially that a commute — even my daily bike to/from the office — was a monumental waste of time. Over the last year, Amazon’s forced and blanket RTO policy (among other very, imo, “Day 2” policies and mandates) made my decision to look for new opportunities an easy one.

I didn’t expect to like primarily working from home but I did. That commute time went, instead, to volunteering at my kiddo’s school, nearly daily walks with my partner, projects and helping around the house, playing with my band, and other connections with our West Seattle community. As the pandemic lessened, I loved intentionally getting together with my teams to brainstorm, plan, and bond but then we went back to where we all decided we did our best work and got it done.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to where or how work can or should happen but that’s what’s so exciting that companies mandating RTO are missing out on. They’re missing that their employees aren’t just an FTE on an HR roster but people with lived-in experiences that can bring vibrance and creativity to the problems we try to solve for customers. By trying to, quite literally, shove everyone into a climate-controlled box via journeys that can rob hours from our lives daily, companies are demanding the best from us while overlooking that the technologies that many of these very same companies created allow great teams to grow and great work to happen from literally anywhere.

Similar to many people I’ve talked with, I have my theories behind the “why” of mandated RTO — I’ll spare you those. What I will say is it came down to one issue for me: trust. I’m an adult as are all of my colleagues and everyone at every business effected by similar policies. For execs to ignore us as individuals and ignore what we accomplished during the height of the pandemic shows they don’t trust us. They choose a path that personally made me feel like a school kid being called on each morning by name to raise my hand and say “present” and I won’t accept that and encourage anyone else who’s able to take your experience and talents away from companies that similarly lack trust in their people to do the same.

Was it easy to find another job? Hell no — it’s exhausting! It took nearly 6 months of drafting cover letters, customizing my resume and portfolio, fielding screener calls, prepping (and sometimes doing homework) for interviews, getting rejected, and sometimes even being ghosted all while life and work had to continue pretty much as normal. One ray of hope I’d offer to all of you is that, despite what waves of layoffs may signal, there are piles of great, remote-first jobs out there that I was served up that were tangentially related to being a design technologist — research, design, management, software engineering, and more! If you have the time and energy there are a lot of companies across industries who understand the diversity of thought and experience remote-first teams can bring and are competing on that.

I’d love to hear stories on your remote work journey or, better yet, amplify any open roles you know about via my post on LinkedIn. Remember, you’re not alone and, together, we bring and make the value at our companies.