Warehouses' Adding Tech-Like Amenities Is a Genius Move for These 2 Reasons

Sometimes, it's best to forget everything you know and look outside your industry for innovation.  By Julian Hayes II  Founder, The Art of Fitness & Life

Sometimes, it's best to forget everything you know and look outside your industry for innovation.
By Julian Hayes II Founder, The Art of Fitness & Life

Between McDonald's recently spending $300 million for "decision logic" technology and Spotify steadily making its move to become the Netflix of audio after buying its third podcast company, no matter the industry, you must seek staying up to date on trends in your workplace or risk becoming irrelevant.

While those companies are following this logic and the typical office will have coffee bars or some other type of comfort to make work feel more like home, not all arenas have fully caught on to this yet. One arena, in particular, is warehouses.

Growing up, I would hear about warehouses often because of a handful of family members working in distribution centers. I even did some seasonal work at some distribution centers. When you think of warehouses and distribution centers, you most likely gravitate your thinking to no air conditioning, strenuous work, fast-paced, uncertainty (especially for temporary and part-time workers), and scheduling rigidity.  You don't think of comfort and luxury amenities. However, this is slowly changing.

Due to a tight labor market as reported recently in a Wall Street Journal article, logistics firms, manufacturers and developers are incorporating Silicon Valley-like amenities to attract and retain employees. A few of these amenities across various centers are patios, discounted dining venues, gyms, landscaped walking trails and a beach bocce court among many others.

Warehouses finally coming along to upgrading their experience is teaching you two valuable principles to succeeding long term.

1. Environment must be prioritized.

Maybe it's a millennial thing, maybe it's the national unemployment rate being 3.6 percent,  maybe it's due to more job options, or maybe people are fed up--regardless, the physical environment has never been as important as it is now. Money is important, but your workspace is just as important when it comes to attracting and retaining employees.

U.K. online fashion retailer ASOS designed a 1-million-square-foot distribution center in the Atlanta region with a plethora of amenities focused on various aspects of their employee's life. At the distribution center are skylights for natural light, two full basketball courts, a soccer field, a gym, and a health facility. There's a salad bar along with pizza and grill stations that are partially subsidized by ASOS. If you're want to boost your appearance, there's even a temporary pop-up nail bar and barbershop.

Don't let the sizzle of these amenities lead you to think grandiosity is the only way to go. You can optimize your workforce and the environment by addressing smaller things of scale. You can work on the quality of your snacking options available, spice up your interior designing, and even work on educating your workforce about healthy eating among other things. 

2. Don't forget about your substance.

As humans in general, there's a tendency to focus on the shiny objects and the sizzle. However, it's the fundamentals of life, the substance, that actually moves the needle forward in the most impactful manner.

While warehouses are adding more of these grandiose amenities, there's also a recognition that fundamental factors important to people such as work schedules, wages, ventilation, water filtration, and insurance need addressing.

If you're wondering how to unravel more substance within your company and team, it's easier than you think. Start by asking your team members and learning what things are actually important to them. Next, begin to act on those recommendations. 

Warehouses adding fancy amenities are great, but as they'll quickly find out, optimizing the fundamentals will go a long way in terms of winning long term.

As you look toward the future, seek to marry the creative and grandiose factors with the tried and true fundamentals of everyday work.