The lightbulb in your nightstand lamp burns out, and you check your cabinet to replace it – you don’t have extras. Of course. But a quick search online and you’ve ordered one to be delivered tomorrow. That’s pretty much the end of the journey for you, but for a fulfillment warehouse worker, the journey has only begun.
Have you ever wondered what their day is like? What kind of person might like working at a fulfillment warehouse? What they are responsible for during the day? While every warehouse varies, this is a general look at what a day in the life of a warehouse worker might look like:
Regardless of when the shift starts, there’s a pre-shift routine – and some warehouses have multiple shifts, so you don’t need to be an early riser to be a good fit for a warehouse job. When you step into the warehouse and start your shift, a couple of things happen:
- Dynamic stretching. It’s a physical job, and it’s important to be prepared for that! Stretching and exercising at the beginning of the shift help get the blood flowing and your muscles warmed up so that you’re loose and ready to do a lot of repetitive motions throughout the course of the day.
- Reviewing goals and KPIs. Each warehouse has its own priorities and goals. Many warehouses focus on speed, which usually is measured by the number of orders fulfilled per hour. For example, Red Stag Fulfillment focuses on accuracy, which is measured by the number of orders picked accurately. It may not seem like much of a difference, but if the warehouse you work in prioritizes accuracy and care above speed, you’re not going to be running around the whole day. Instead, you’ll be more likely to carry on about your work at a relaxed, steady walking pace.
Getting to work
There are several different types of jobs within a warehouse:
In the warehouse, the receiver is quality control. They receive the inventory – of course – but also check it to make sure it’s correct and not damaged. Most warehouses use some combination of barcode scanners, RFID tags, and video cameras to input all the inventory entering the building and ensure that there is proof of it being correctly unloaded, unboxed, and placed in proper holdings onsite.
Pickers do about what you’d expect: pick items from the floor and get them prepared for shipment. However, it’s not a simple job. It involves a high level of accuracy and being very detail-oriented, as you need to carefully read the printed request, pull the right item, and place them in the correct spot. This is where mistakes can happen when speed is prioritized because workers can feel pressured to go faster and discouraged from ensuring that they’ve picked the order correctly. Today’s pickers usually use some form of handheld device — oftentimes a smartphone strapped to the forearm — to guide them through the warehouse using GPS mapping. This ensures that pickers follow an optimal route and waste less time and energy in collecting goods for packing.
An operator controls any number of different types of special machinery in order to lift and move inventory or assist with packing needs. Special machinery can include a forklift for heavier goods, or even a cardboard box cutting machine. If you’re the type of hands-on person who enjoys playing with fancy toys and pushing lots of levers and buttons, this is the warehouse job for you.
One of the most physical jobs in the warehouse, loaders move inventory, both received and sent out. Essentially, they load and unload trucks that have arrived or are ready to leave to the next destination. Like Receiving, there is usually a combination of phones or video cameras on-hand to ensure proper documentation of every single package leaving the facility.
Finally, a returns worker handles returned inventory. They answer questions, process the information for the return, and update the inventory list. Not every warehouse does this the same way, especially when it’s being contracted out as a third party. This part of the process is closer to customer support, which usually involves an extra level of training and requires a different skillset.
Breaks are important!
Just like any other job, workers need breaks! Mentally and physically taxing work can’t be done for huge stretches of time. You’ll have time to break multiple times a day — usually for coffee in the morning, lunch in the early afternoon, and then once again sometime between lunch and going home. Working smart means that it’s better when you have a chance to let your body and mind take a quick break, so that way you’re energized and ready to work hard once break time is over.
Good communication between management and workers
Like any job, there is always going to be an opportunity for communication between the people on the floor of the warehouse and those who oversee it. It’s important to listen to employees and take their input seriously — after all, who knows best what’s happening in the warehouse than the person who walks miles inside it every day? One way to ensure proper communication of any problems, or to suggest areas of improvement, is to have listening boards stationed around the warehouse. Red Stag Fulfillment places what is essentially a suggestion board filled with employee comments and suggestions in a few areas of our warehouse so that we can learn from our workers and make our warehouse a better place to work.
Finishing up for the day
Warehouse shifts can last anywhere between 8 to 12 hours from when they begin, depending on conditions such as the time of year, contract agreements between employer and employee, and other factors. When the day is over, your body will probably be tired. It’s probably a good idea to remember to stretch and do some cool-down exercises before you head home for the day. Most importantly, going home to a healthy meal with family or friends, plus a solid night’s sleep is a good way to ensure that you return home the next day rested and ready for another day in the warehouse.
About The Author:
Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an e-commerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of e-commerce. He has years of experience in e-commerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.
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