I’m writing this as Jeffrey Bezos, CEO entrepreneur born in 1964, straps himself into a giant penis set for space.
And when I say space, I mean it. So, commiserations to Richard Branson. He may have beaten Jeffrey by a week but only made it a pithy 80 kilometres – AKA the “boundary of space” – begging the question, why even bother?
What struck me (along with many others) was not the Dr. Evil-esque phallic spacecraft. It was the tone-deaf speech made by Jeffrey in the post-launch press conference.
Cosplaying as a space cowboy, Jeffrey thanked all his Amazon employees and customers. But rather than going with the standard non-offensive “…for making this possible” he went with “…because you guys paid for this.”
“I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all of this.”Jeff Bezos
But whatever the wording, people would have seen the irony of the richest man on earth thanking the people he exploited for giving him a few seconds in zero gravity.
So why did this statement trigger so many?
Because Amazon’s workplace injury rates dwarf the national warehouse average.
Because Amazon drivers are often left with no choice but to pee into bottles or risk missing their demanding quotas.
Because it can take up to 15 minutes for Amazon workers to walk from the warehouse to the break room – at which point, their 15-minute break is over and they’re late for their next shift.
Because, despite what business and marketing thought leaders love to parrot, Amazon’s success is not down to its Amazonian culture. It’s not down to its leadership principles, its “progressive” workplace, or its customer experience obsession.
The depressing fact is that Amazon’s success can be accounted to one thing: treating humans like robots.
“They didn’t really force you to pee in the bottles. You just didn’t really have time to go to the bathroom.”Savannah – Amazon Driver
There is no room for inefficiency in an Amazon warehouse. The scanners employees are given aren’t just for scanning. They’re countdown clocks that automatically alert your manager if you’ve had too much “Time off Tasks.”
The allowance? 18 minutes of downtime per shift (6:30am to 6pm). That 18 minutes includes using the bathroom, grabbing a drink or just walking too slow for the overlord algorithm.
Why is this something to look up to?
Surely, we can be better than Amazon.
Surely, we can be better than Bezos.