One of the primary requirements of working in a warehouse is to be fast.
In fact, being slow can land you into trouble with fellow employees and management.
Being fast is so important that some warehouses award performance incentives to workers who perform above a certain threshold.
As a new employee in a warehouse/distribution center, it can be frustrating trying to keep up with your peers. Sometimes it feels like no matter how much you try your numbers never seem to go up.
It may not seem like it, but we’ve all been there. No one starts out being an expert. You just have to learn and gain experience.
The following are methods I’ve used to successfully improve my working speed in the warehouse.
While on the clock, your entire focus should be on completing the task at hand. You have a limited amount of time to accomplish a particular task, so try not to waste even a second, if you can help it.
If you are an order selector for example, you should either be driving your truck, placing items on pallets or staging.
Don’t think about what you’re going to have for dinner, that friend you’re going to call during break, etc.
I know this seems like a simple and obvious thing but you wouldn’t believe how many people I see zoned out from time to time while working.
Those few minutes you spend chatting with your colleagues here and there add up to a lot of time wasted in the end.
Wear Light Shoes
I must stress how important the weight of your shoes is in impacting your speed in the warehouse.
I always see guys running around in monstrosities of boots but then wonder why their performance doesn’t improve by the end of their shift.
Heavy steel toe boots wear you out faster and make your feet sore. Leave them to construction workers.
Look around Amazon, there are steel toe boots meant for warehouse work that are light on your feet.
Choose shoes that are slightly bigger than your normal shoe size to prevent pain, blisters and calluses.
With lighter shoes, you will have an easier time trying to up your performance numbers, especially if you’re a selector or loader.
I recommend having a bottle of water with you to sip from while working.
Dehydration affects your speed especially if you’ve been working for a while.
Wear Light Clothes
This is somewhat related to being hydrated because wearing heavy clothes makes you sweat more, therefore making you dehydrated.
Plus, sweaty clothes tend to stick to your body, which hinders your movement.
Heavy clothes also limit the range in which your arms and legs can move. They make you move slower and therefore perform slower.
If the environment and rules in your warehouse allow it, you can try wearing shorts and a t-shirt for work and see if your performance improves.
If you are a fellow caffeine addict, then having a cup of coffee or drinking a Red Bull before you begin work does have an impact on your performance.
I have noticed that the days when I’m not caffeinated, I tend to be slower than usual and generally have a bad time at the warehouse due to headaches and the like.
Working on an empty stomach won’t do you any good. I’ve done it; it’s not worth it.
You need enough energy for all the movements and lifting you’re going to be doing in the warehouse.
If you work when hungry, your performance will be diminished. You might get slower and prone to making mistakes. So don’t do it.
Have a Watch With You
It’s difficult to know how fast or how slow you’re going, especially if you are new to the warehouse environment.
This is why I always stress that you wear a digital watch.
With a watch, you’ll be able to time yourself and take note of how long it takes you to complete a task.
You can then use this knowledge to try harder on the next task if you notice that you were slow on the previous one.
Prepare Adequately Before Your Shift Starts
Make sure you gather and assess all necessities before work starts.
You don’t want to have to go back for something you forgot, e.g., gloves, when work has already started. This interrupts your flow and eats into your time allotment.
It’s also important that you test out all your equipment to make sure they are in working condition.
Many times I see guys having to go recharge their battery powered equipment in the middle of their orders. This just slows you down.
Know Your Routes in the Warehouse
You should try and memorize the shortest routes to all the sections of the warehouse you access frequently.
This is going to help you reach your destinations quicker especially if you’re a picker, reach truck operator, or fork lift operator.
A lot of newer guys tend to get lost in the warehouse and spend a lot of time going back and forth looking for the right location they should be in.
You lose a lot of time doing this.
Use the Bathroom in Advance
If you have to go to the bathroom, do it beforehand or during breaks. Having the need to go to the bathroom while you’re working can be distracting.
Not to mention that it eats up your time when you actually do go to the bathroom.
Warehouse work is very demanding and requires you to be always in a rush.
However, it is doable. You just need patience and grit to keep at it, and you will see improvement. Don’t give up.