Working at an Amazon fulfillment center is tough and tedious. Stories of problematic working conditions have plagued the company for years now, and pressure has likely only increased as the retail giant is pushing to get packages out even faster.
To give the company some credit, it has worked to improve conditions, including the addition of a $15/hour minimum wage and automating certain tasks with the help of its growing robotics offering. Turns out the company has also been, quite literally, gamifying certain tasks.
WaPo (which, incidentally, is also owned by Mr. Bezos) has a write-up of an “experimental” video game designed to motivate workers to fill orders. The game, which is apparently optional for employees, lives on workstation screens, awarding points for fulfilling orders and pitting teams against one another in the process.
As the story notes, Amazon’s not alone in the idea. Gig-based companies like Uber and Lyft are similarly incentivizing workers with rewards for driving longer. In an age when we’ve gamified our own step counts through Fitbit and the like, it’s probably no surprise that companies are taking similar tacks for their duller positions.
Still, the whole thing is a bit odd — and probably a good indication of how repetitive these tasks can be. As we noted on a recent trip to the company’s massive Staten Island fulfillment center, the “picker” and “stower” gigs work closely with Amazon’s shelf-sporting robots to get packages to their destination.