CASES FROM THE REAL WORLD
Amazon Sets a Demanding Pace on the Job
In a visit to an Amazon distribution center, a group of business students and their professors met with the
general manager.3 (Links to an external site.)After taking them on an extensive tour of the five-acre facility,
the general manager commented on the slowness of the visitors’ walking pace. He described the Amazon
Pace, a fast, aggressive walk, and confirmed that the average employee walks eight or nine miles during a
shift. These employees are called “pickers,” and their task is to fill an order and deliver it to the processing
and packing center as quickly as possible. The design of the center is a trade secret that results in a
random distribution of products. Therefore, the picker has to cover a number of directions and distances
while filling an order. Those who cannot keep up the pace are usually let go, just as would be those who
Does the requirement to walk an average of eight or nine miles at a fast pace every day strike you as a
reasonable expectation for employees at Amazon, or any other workplace? Why or why not? Should a
company that wants to impose this requirement tell job applicants beforehand?
Is it ethical for customers to patronize a company that imposes this kind of requirement on its employees?
And if not, what other choices do customers have and what can they do about it?
The center’s general manager may have been exaggerating about the Amazon Pace to impress upon his
visitors how quickly and nimbly pickers fill customer orders for the company. If not, however, is such a pace
sustainable without the risk of physiological and psychological stress?
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