This year, as the Covid-19 crisis continues to hit countries around the world, Amazon has been one of the few winners, with demand surging and the company on pace to hire 175,000 workers. But Bezos didn't necessarily paint a rosy picture. He did, however, offer some key insights into what business owners, big and small, can expect in the coming year.
Read on for five key takeaways from Jeff Bezos' 2020 shareholder letter:
How Amazon Is Protecting Workers
Bezos was clear that he believes Amazon will need to work aggressively to keep its employees safe. He said that Amazon has implemented more than 150 "significant process changes" in its operations and conducts daily audits to ensure those measures are in place and working.
"We've distributed face masks and implemented temperature checks at sites around the world to help protect employees and support staff," he wrote. "We regularly sanitize door handles, stairway handrails, lockers, elevator buttons, and touch screens, and disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer are standard across our network.
"We've also introduced extensive social distancing measures to help protect our associates," he added. "We have eliminated stand-up meetings during shifts, moved information sharing to bulletin boards, staggered break times, and spread out chairs in breakrooms."
A Call for Widespread Testing
Bezos said that he believes regular testing of all workers will be required to ensure the safety of the workforce and rebuild the economy. He said that a dedicated team inside Amazon is now working on how to bring regular testing of all employees, but he said tests need to be manufactured for every company around the world to do the same.
"If every person could be tested regularly, it would make a huge difference in how we fight this virus," he wrote. "Those who test positive could be quarantined and cared for, and everyone who tests negative could re-enter the economy with confidence."
An Eye on the Environment
Moving away from coronavirus, Bezos said Amazon remains committed to reducing its carbon footprint, reiterating that the company is working towards getting to a net-zero carbon footprint by 2040. That goal was set last year, when Amazon created The Climate Pledge with Christiana Figueres, who serves as founder of Global Optimism.
Looking ahead, Bezos said, Amazon wants to convince more companies to reduce their carbon emissions.
"We are recruiting other companies to sign The Climate Pledge," he said. "Signatories agree to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions regularly, implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement, and achieve net zero annual carbon emissions by 2040. We'll be announcing new signatories soon."
Focusing on Workforce Development
Bezos said that Amazon now employs 840,000 people worldwide and wants to "improve workers' lives beyond pay." To ensure a stronger workforce, he said, Amazon is investing in improving workers' skills.
"We're spending $700 million to provide more than 100,000 Amazonians access to training programs, at their places of work, in high-demand fields such as healthcare, cloud computing, and machine learning," Bezos said. He added that Amazon wants to "help hundreds of thousands of students each year learn computer science and coding."
A Look Ahead
Looking ahead, Bezos shared little about where he thinks Amazon will be in a year or two years. Instead, he said he is "optimistic" that the world will be strengthened by the coronavirus outbreak and, believes Amazon will be able to grow from this experience.
"For now, my own time and thinking continues to be focused on COVID-19 and how Amazon can help while we're in the middle of it," he said. "I am extremely grateful to my fellow Amazonians for all the grit and ingenuity they are showing as we move through this. You can count on all of us to look beyond the immediate crisis for insights and lessons and how to apply them going forward."