Rethinking the industrial workspace – A strong economy and an e-commerce boom was all it took for the industrial workplace to come under pressure. Not only because of the steeply rising demand for appropriate industrial real estate, but also because of the need for skilled labour.
Irrespective of how we see it, the sector’s growth is unquestionably generating specific demands for warehousing and manufacturing real estate. How can your industrial workplace help you attract and retain the right work force?
Let’s start by comparing then and now. In the past, a 70,000 m² warehouse could employ around 400 workers. With the rise of e-commerce distribution centres, more than twice as many workers are required to fulfil the necessary tasks on the same surface area. And as other sectors also prey on the same warehousing real estate, it puts a strain on an entire chain of industries. To top it off, the growing need for skilled workers is the source of a fierce war on talent between industries that are after the same employees as e-commerce companies are.
Improving workplaces will be crucial for retaining employees, optimising business processes and ultimately maximising companies’ future success – a key learning you’d best take to heart when investing in new industrial real estate. Your future tenants will be looking for all of these features when searching for the best location for their warehousing activities.
Futureproofing your industrial workplace is about more than wages, amenities, training and culture. It’s about combining all of these into one clear employer strategy. A comfortable and safe work environment is crucial, with enough attention to physical activity, human contact, natural lighting and so on. Providing your teams with gyms, outdoor break areas, day-care centres, leisure activities and other amenities will boost morale – and more importantly, result in a decrease of absenteeism, sickness and mental health issues.
Don’t forget to take care of the digital nomad inside your employees, by improving connectivity through wireless access points. Focus on physical health as well, by automating processes that are detrimental to people’s health.
When developing the right industrial workplace strategy, bear in mind that overall comfort is what employees search for the most. Make sure the old stereotypes of dark, sweltering workshops without any sunlight or natural air become a thing of the past. Instead, invest in proper cooling and heating systems, and install windows or skylights to ensure workers’ wellbeing.
Provide easy access to food and public transportation. If you’re located in a remote area, make sure employees can eat on-site. Treat them with healthy cafeterias or adventurous food trucks. The advantages for the employer are numerous: they save energy, maintain workers’ health and increase productivity.
So, how do you counter that? Well, better pay and benefits will always attract workers. And flexible work schedules may also be a plus, since they allow a certain work-life balance for employees. Apart from that, the prospect of personal and professional development is key for worker retention as well. Pay attention to your employees’ ambitions and take them on board in your business strategies.
The above isn’t just a matter of higher productivity rates and combatting absenteeism. The main goal is to counter the overall perception of warehousing and logistics jobs, which is one of monotony and demands for extreme flexibility, yet with low wages and no career prospects. In short, you might be at disadvantage because potential candidates see your job openings as unappealing.
By providing the right training programmes, you will not only be able to increase productivity rates and futureproof your workers’ skillset, you may also motivate your staff to grow and challenge themselves – a key to employee satisfaction. To do just that, Germany, for example, have introduced and promote the dual learning system, where workers spend a few days a week in the classroom and the rest of their working time on the job.
The boom in industrial real estate and e-commerce has impacted both the real estate industry and the manufacturing and warehousing labour pool. Looking to the future, better industrial workplaces are key to attracting the right employees and retaining them for longer. The modern warehouse workplace is the answer to securing your company’s longevity.
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