Like everyone else, the world’s biggest retailer has been telling warehouse workers to keep their distance from one another while they are on the job - six feet or more, if possible - during the coronavirus pandemic that has all but shuttered the economy.
The difference is if they don’t they face being reprimanded or shown the door.
Deemed an essential business amid the global coronavirus pandemic that has turned online shopping into a mode of survival for millions, Amazon has been telling its warehouse workers that if they fail to follow social distancing rules they could face disciplinary action.
The first violation will result in a written warning, and if employees are caught a second time, they could get fired, according to media reports.
While the actions are focused on those who “intentionally” ignore the rules, the efforts emphasize Amazon’s unenviable balancing act between remaining open for business and fulfilling the needs of millions of home-bound consumers and looking after the health and safety of its thousands of essential warehouse employees - who at the same time need and want to work.
For its part, Amazon has continued to proactively respond to both internal and external concerns and complaints. In a blog post, Amazon reiterated that the health and safety of employees is “our top concern” and that it has made over 150 “process updates” - code for changes in how it moves goods around its warehouses - “… to help protect employees.”
All that in addition to implementing “enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures,” including putting tape down on the floor to advise workers on where they can stand safely, as well as reconfiguring cafeterias so that workers don’t sit next to one another.
Still, the balancing act the company continues to play in keeping goods moving to consumers and keeping the people who make those goods move to consumers safe and virus-free continues to pose a massive challenge all around.