Warehouses adding snazzy employee amenities among tight labor market

    Coffee bars, lounges and other creature-comforts that have become regular features of modern office spaces are beginning to make their way to warehouses, The Wall Street Journal reports.

    In the past, warehouses typically have been windowless, concrete boxes with little more in the way of amenities than vending machines, simple tables and aluminum folding chairs. 

    Facing a tight labor market, e-commerce operators, logistics firms, manufacturers and developers are incorporating amenities that were first popularized in Silicon Valley’s campuses before spreading to urban office skyscrapers and workspaces across Baton Rouge. New perks at distribution centers also include patios, discounted dining venues, gyms and landscaped walking trails.

    Businesses throughout the country are facing the challenge of hiring and retaining workers with the national unemployment rate at 3.6%. The pressure has been particularly acute in the e-commerce sector where the rapid shift to online shopping is fueling a voracious appetite for warehouses.

    In years past, distribution mostly involved moving large shipments of goods to stores. But lately, warehouse work has become more complex, intense and time-pressured with workers picking and packing many orders of individual products to ship directly to shoppers. Even with the increasing use of robotics, that means a 500,000-square-foot warehouse that once had 100 workers or fewer may now have three to 10 times that workforce, developers and brokers say.

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