Before Christmas, I worked in an Amazon Warehouse. It’s Exhausting.
- Insider was told by an Amazon worker that they felt depressed after working six days a weeks before Christmas.
- After doing it for 10 consecutive weeks, the worker stated that they had “lost all hope of living a normal lifestyle.”
- It’s like being in the gym for 10 straight hours, they said. And working night shifts is difficult.
This essay is based upon a conversation with an Amazon warehouse worker from the UK, who spoke anonymously to protect his privacy. Insider has verified their identity as well as their employment. This article has been edited to be more concise and clear.
My role in an Amazon warehouse is inventory control. It involves counting how many items are placed in a bin or pod – where items are collected – scanning barcodes on items in bins, and keeping recording of how many of the same items are placed in each bin.
These three tasks are all called counting. I also keep track by counting the damaged items. I do this by walking around the warehouse floor, picking them up on a cart, and then entering them into a system. Then, I sort them.
Some of the items are sent to “damage land” – a place where we keep damaged items that can be sold at a lower price. Inventory control falls under the quality section. I also check for mistakes such as items being placed in the wrong place.
Collecting damage means that you have to walk all night round a huge fulfillment center. It can be physically strenuous because of the weight of the items.
It can be very exhausting in the lead up to Christmas. It’s a stressful time for everyone and it’s not a positive vibe.
While we get paid more, overtime is mandatory.
Non-peak hours, I work 40 hours per week over four days. My contract states that Amazon has the right of changing our schedule. As such, when peak season begins in November, managers inform us at each shift during a briefing.
I was briefed that peak season workers must work five shifts per week, instead of the usual four, and that workers can also choose to volunteer to do a sixth.
The peak season of last year was very difficult
Because I wanted to make more, I offered to increase my overtime time from five to six days. I worked there for ten weeks while my husband was not working. After that, I became sick and couldn’t do any more.
I felt sore, aching and pains. A ten-hour shift is similar to being in the gym for ten hour because bins and pods can be large. This means that you have to climb up and down a ladder to reach the top.
I was exhausted. I was completely exhausted, and I felt like I had no life other than work. I felt depressed. I didn’t want my husband or son to see me.
I slept on my day off. I rarely saw my son and had only a brief conversation with him before and after school. I lost all hope of living a normal existence. How can you feel if you only have to work and sleep? I felt depressed and cried every single day.
I couldn’t leave my job because I was the only one in the family who worked.
It was a terrible time, and I was always tired and angry. I didn’t have enough energy to do any chores or clean up. All I could think about was sleep.
I didn’t see my friends until after Christmas. I was still exhausted after I started back doing four days per week. It takes time for burnout to be overcome.
I get up at 4 p.m. to make sure my son is home from school. I then shower and get ready for work by 5.15 p.m., as my night shift begins at 7 p.m. I finish at 5.30 am.
It is busier during Cyber Monday and Black Friday but it gets worse closer Christmas. Pods are where items are sorted and ready to ship out. We are working under extreme pressure because there isn’t enough space.
Temporary workers are the most difficult thing to do. It’s a disaster that new workers don’t understand all the rules. It makes it more difficult for others to do their jobs, as it means they have to correct their mistakes.
Because they are temporary, people who have just started work don’t care as much about their work. They know they will eventually leave so they don’t take the time to look after their items.
The canteen is packed with people, around 200 at a stretch, who are waiting to use the microwave, buy food, or use the vending machine. I bring my own food because the food is horrible. You lose 10 minutes waiting to use the microwave if the canteen gets so busy.
I now work five days a weeks, which I am contractually required to do. It’s still hard and tiring, but I’m not volunteering for another day of overtime this year.
It’s hard work, and it’s physically demanding. You also have to walk a lot. I am exhausted by the time I get home in the morning. I just want to live a happy life.
A spokesperson for Amazon told Insider that the comments were made by a warehouse worker. “Working as a warehouse worker is not for everyone. It can be very rewarding for those who don’t like sitting at a desk all day.
They stated that Amazon is the best warehouse job for anyone who wants to work. In addition to excellent pay and benefits, we ensure that everyone is treated with dignity. Respect, gets regular breaks, works at a comfortable pace, and is supported. You can experience it yourself by taking a live tour.
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