Unfulfilled? – Exploring work and employment in warehousing and logistics spaces
Research theme: Work Futures Research Group
School: School of Social Sciences
Setting the Context
Despite considerable criticism of working conditions in warehousing and logistics centres by journalists, campaigners, trade unions, and politicians, and despite increasing acknowledgement of the sector’s importance as an employer, there is a lack of recognised and methodologically rigorous academic research into the changing working and employment practices that are developing in this highly innovative arena. This project aims to address this deficiency and highlight important research questions and considerations when undertaking work in this space.
Addressing the Challenge
The project has begun by reviewing published evidence about the process of fulfilment, the working conditions inside one company's fulfilment centres, and the nature of the employment of fulfilment centre workers. Over 500 academic and non-academic sources of information have been consulted, the vast majority of which were published online.
The research team attempted to ensure the validity of their evidence, by means of triangulation of source material, and the validity of the conclusions that they drew, from their analysis of the source material, through a process of stakeholder review involving academics, trade unions, and fulfilment centre workers. This evidence review has created six key questions to explore and take further.
Making a Difference
The main message of the research is that we don’t yet fully understand how the speed of change in this sector is impacting on the workforce. We believe this requires further study. The need to balance consumer demands with a workforce that has sustained, fulfilling and healthy employment into the long term needs to be researched further to address the gaps in our understanding and to support the creation of work that is fair and well-rewarded.
Work Futures has laid our a number of key themes and research questions to consider following their work reviewing material on e-commerce warehousing.
To understand the nature of the sector Work Futures conducted an evidence review of available material to help understand the gaps and opportunities for further research and engagement across the sector.
They will present their research report for discussion by an expert panel at a public online event on 26th November 2021.