Warehouse work continues to see demand increases, and there are no signs of this slowing down in 2021. As non-essential retail businesses are closed in another national lockdown, people again turn to online shopping, which means more warehouse work, especially in small orders dispatched directly to consumers.
As lockdowns become less of a shock, panic buying in shops will play less of a factor, and demand will increase in warehouses supplying essential household items and food. Many pharmaceuticals, grocery, and e-commerce sectors are experiencing high demand, increasing their warehouse throughput and the need for space.
Businesses whose products are in less demand have pivoted to manufacturing different products, such as hand sanitiser, face coverings, PPE, and ventilators, making dips in production less likely.
How Warehouse Staff are Staying Safe
After an initial shock and rapid response to safe working guidelines and distancing practices in 2020, warehouse work is much safer in 2021.
Warehouse staff are staying safe by:
- Increasing their handwashing and surface cleaning frequency
- Avoiding close contact during warehouse work with coworkers, customers, and truck drivers
- Working with screens where social distancing of two metres is not possible
- Reducing their use of shared warehouse equipment and workstations
- Working in fixed teams to reduce their contact with the wider workforce
- Wearing PPE and avoiding touching their face, nose, mouth, and eyes
- Introducing new shift patterns to stagger arrival and departure times
- Introducing one way systems and restricting access to shared spaces
- Abstaining from work if they are sick
- Boosting efficiency by using electric vehicle warehouse equipment such as burden carriers, platform trucks, and tow tugs
How Long will the Demand on Warehouses Last?
The demand for warehouse work will likely continue to be high during 2021 and beyond, even if the pandemic is brought under control and vaccines are effective. During non-essential shop closures, warehouses will become storage hubs for non-food retailers who cannot move their stock.
As businesses respond and consumers become accustomed to online shopping, this purchasing route could become the new norm and continue even after lockdowns and restrictions are eased. This means that retailers who have created e-commerce stores to counter temporary shop closures will be unlikely to close their online shopping portals, which will play a more significant role in generating income.
Warehouse work is on the rise and offers a bright future for the distribution sector and those who work in it.