Amazon Introduces “AmaZen” Booths To Soothe Its Overworked Warehouse Employees
The e-commerce giant introduced “AmaZen” as part of its new wellness program at warehouses, which have a reputation for their demanding and dangerous conditions.
While Amazon faces accusations that it contributed to a failed, historic unionization campaign in Alabama, the e-commerce giant came up with a solution for employees working grueling shifts: small meditation boxes. (Soothing, right?)
Amazon introduced AmaZen in May as part of a broader project called WorkingWell, which will provide employees with “physical and mental activities, wellness exercises, and healthy eating support.” AmaZen, which is a “mindful practice room,” is a box within warehouses designed so employees can lock themselves away during their work shifts. The “individual interactive kiosks” will use short videos including “guided meditations, positive affirmations, and calming scenes with sounds.”
If you’ve ever seen a panic room, it’s not far off:
“With AmaZen I wanted to create a space that’s quiet, that people could go and focus on their mental and emotional well-being,” AmaZen creator Leila Brown said in a video introducing the kiosks, adding that they help “recharge the internal battery.”
After Amazon posted a video introducing the “mindful practice room” Wednesday on Twitter, one commenter noted how “dystopian” it was, while another said “Imagine working in a place where this is deemed necessary.”
Several other respondents made jokes asking if the kiosks are where employees go to “pee in a bottle” — a nod to undercover journalist James Bloodworth’s book “Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain.” Bloodworth reported workers would skip bathroom breaks and urinate in water bottles to hit their goals. Another survey found that 74% of employees would “avoid using the toilet for fear of missing their target.”
“Do I go there before or after a manager who never worked in a warehouse sets my target at 200% of what's humanly possible?” another Twitter user quipped.
Along with adding its cubes for alone time, Amazon introduced other amenities for workers including wellness zones for stretching, EatWell, which gives workers healthier food options, and health care services within 10 miles of the warehouse.
Amazon instilling its new WorkingWell program comes after a highly-publicized, failed unionization effort at its Bessemer, Alabama warehouse. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) accused Amazon of spending “millions of dollars on harassing and intimidating its workers” months before a vote was held to unionize. Workers ultimately voted against unionizing in April.
Nearly 6,000 people work at the warehouse in Bessemer, which has a more than 70% Black population.
Amazon has rebuffed claims that it illegally interfered in the union vote, saying in a statement that there has “been a lot of noise over the past few months” and that employees are the “heart and soul of Amazon.”
Amazon warehouses globally have gained a reputation for being demanding workplaces, with long hours, near-impossible quotas, and reports of high physical injury rates. Former and current employees have told their stories about terrible warehouse conditions, while activist workers have been fired for calling on the e-commerce giant to improve working conditions.
In its press release this month, Amazon said it was investing $300 million into safety projects in 2021 and hopes to lower incidents by 50% by 2025.