After hiring 1,750 remote customer-service associates last fall, Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) plans to add another 3,000 this spring, according to data from jobs listing website FlexJobs. The online commerce leader has been a top employer of remote workers, with FlexJobs noting that it ranks No. 6 on its list of top 100 companies with remote jobs.
This new hiring spree is good news for people looking to work from home, but there are some catches. Amazon isn't hiring in every state. In fact, there are only 18 (the list is below) where potential hires can live. In addition to meeting the residency requirement, applicants need a high school diploma or equivalent, and access to a workspace that's free of all distractions.
And while most of the jobs are in customer service, Amazon also has remote openings for the positions of technical account manager, migration lead, front-end engineer, program manager, and security consultant, according to FlexJobs. The hiring process has already started and will continue until all positions are filled.
What is Amazon looking for?
Customer service jobs can be demanding because consumers tend to call only when there's something wrong. In hiring for these positions, Amazon says it "prefers applicants who have customer service or call center experience, those who can work in a fast-paced environment, and those with logical problem-solving skills."
If you get hired for one of the customer service associate positions, you'll earn $15 an hour and will have to undergo mandatory paid training. You will also need to have (or purchase) office equipment and internet service that meets Amazon's standards.
Customer service associates are considered seasonal workers, and their schedules vary based on demand. In off-peak times, Amazon generally offers between 20 and 29 hours per week, according to FlexJobs. During peak seasons or special events (like Prime Day), weekly hours can go up to as many as 60, with time and a half ($22.50 per hour) for any hours that qualify as overtime. After 90 days of working for Amazon, workers in these remote positions become eligible for a health insurance plan.
"Amazon customer service is seeking candidates who exemplify customer obsession and enjoy problem-solving on behalf of others," according to FlexJobs. "Remote customer service associates at Amazon will find themselves helping customers with issues like late packages, damaged items, promotions, returns/refunds, and much more. Phone calls will be the primary way associates will assist customers, but email and chat may also be required."
The jobs are open to applicants who legally reside in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, or Wyoming.
Why is this good for Amazon?
Hiring remote workers gives the digital giant a flexible workforce that it can spin up as needed. By keeping workers on the payroll year-round and adding hours during peak periods, the company has seasoned staff ready for the busier times of the year. It also gets to add to its labor pool without incurring the overhead required for on-site employees.
At $15 an hour, these are decent jobs -- albeit ones with a lot of uncertainty for workers. Being part-time for portions of the year and working 60 hours during peak periods is a challenging schedule, but the ability to work from home likely trumps every other consideration for some potential Amazon hires.
Amazon is being clever in addressing a part of its business that has flexible demand. It should continue to pay off for the company while also offering workers an option they may not otherwise have had.