Amazon Prime Air, a U.K.-based team that oversees the company’s drone delivery service, has lost over 100 employees in the last few years, with some former staff telling Wired that the department is "collapsing inwards."
The company launched Prime Air to test drone delivery in the U.K. just five years ago, but ran into increasingly difficult problems more recently, such as managers being put in charge of a project that they knew little about, one employee reportedly drank beer in the morning while at their desk, and some members of the staff were forced to travel to Costa Rica in order to train their replacements. Amazon would not confirm how many employees remain at Prime Air in the U.K.
"It was a Monday and it was about 11 a.m. or 12 p.m. and this guy just had this open can of Stella," said a former employee. "He took it out of a fridge and popped it open at his desk."
Wired reports that in February 2020, the entirety of the department’s human and animals data analysis team was reassigned to other functions, only for the team to be reopened with entirely new staff just three months later.
One former employee described the situation as "definitely very dysfunctional and there was definitely a lot of disorganization. There was a lot of decision making made in the moment without long term thought to it. It was almost slinging shit at the wall and hoping stuff would stick."
"Everything started collapsing inwards because they [Amazon] piled too much on, they put people in charge who didn’t know anything about the project and they oversold. It’s all one gigantic oversell – just so many promises that can’t be kept," said a former employee.
A spokesperson for Amazon told Wired that safety is one of their top priorities when it comes to the drone program, and said that there are stringent guidelines for ensuring that employees’ work is double-checked and misconduct is dealt with in a timely manner.
An Amazon spokesperson told The Verge that the online retailer "recently made organizational changes in our Prime Air business," and that the company managed to "find positions for affected employees in other areas where we were hiring."
They added, "Prime Air continues to have employees in the U.K. and will keep growing its presence in the region."
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