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Rise of the Amabots

When you think of the stereotypical Silicon Valley workplace, you visualize a non-traditional environment brimming with bike-shares, yoga classes and nap pods. The New York Times piece on Amazon’s workplace culture paints a different picture altogether, one of extreme pressure placed employees, Orwellian productivity monitoring technologies and ascribing to the corporate model to the point that you become an “Amabot,” which sounds like borderline brainwashing.

The Times exposé is bad news for Amazon, a corporation that from the outside-in appeared to be an employment oasis—the type of place you’d pencil in under your “dream jobs” list. The article only proves that things are not always as they seem and to be careful what you wish for.

The piece reads more like scenes out of A Clockwork Orange than occurrences at a forward-thinking tech giant’s offices. Employees forced to answer emails after midnight—and receiving text messages when they have not replied in an acceptable timeframe—, coworkers encouraged to essentially spy on one another and report any shortcomings to higher-ups. Frightening stuff.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos released a statement to his employees (and the media), noting that while he denies that the workplace depicted in the article is the Amazon that he knows, he acknowledges that “anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay.”

So how bad is this for Amazon? Time and employment numbers will tell, but tech jobs are always in high demand, so for every candidate avoiding Amazon you can bet there will be five more to take his place.

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