Amazon has eased its return-to-office order for employees. It now says workers will have to show up three days a week only. The announcement Friday is a change from an earlier demand that staff return to offices full time.

According to an internal email sent to employees Friday, Amazon is aiming to have all of its office workers return to their designated buildings by Sept. 7. This includes workers in the U.S. and in Europe.

Amazon said workers can request exemptions. Corporate employees have the option of working from home for up to four weeks a year.

"Like all companies and organizations around the world, we're managing every stage of this pandemic for the first time, learning and evolving as we go. We've been thinking about how to balance our desire to provide flexibility to work from home with our belief that we invent best for customers when we are together in the office," Amazon said in the email.

Amazon's decision follows a similar announcement made by other U.S. companies such as IBM, Facebook and Google. Earlier in the week, IBM said it expected some of its U.S. employees to return to offices by Sept. 7.

Facebook made a similar announcement and said employees should go back to their offices "at least half the time." Apple also made a concession with employees, granting their request for a partial return to office order by September.

Large cities are banking on the return of office employees this fall after more than a year of empty buildings. In Seattle, where Amazon is based, foot traffic in the city's downtown area had dropped. Amazon is the city's largest tenant with its campus spread across several neighborhoods.

Street-level businesses in the city's downtown area rely on corporate tenants for their survival. According to the Downtown Seattle Association, businesses in the area suffered after office work was temporarily suspended last year.