Wellness features that have become hugely popular over the last few years in office buildings are now being adopted by tenants in industrial properties too. A new report from NAIOP and KSS Architects found that health and wellness-focused design features are getting a lot more interest from industrial tenants, driven by the growing number of employees working in high-tech distribution centers around the country. In the study, researchers looked at the ways in which design focused on employee well-being could make distribution centers healthier work environments that would increase employee retention and lower the costs associated with worker illness and injury. Among other features, warehouse workers could benefit from things like improved ventilation, acoustic treatments that help control high noise levels, break spaces for workers, and amenities like child care and dining.
The increased attention to the workplace environment of warehouse employees comes after years of huge growth in the e-commerce industry. Between 2019 and 2022, sales by non-store retailers grew from $751 billion to $1.28 trillion, according to the NAIOP report. The growth has led to a boom in the number of distribution centers around the country, including last-mile centers that are close to urban areas instead of more rural locations. Focusing on the wellness of warehouse workers is becoming a top priority for a lot of the largest owners of industrial space, who have been under scrutiny for poor working conditions and have been struggling to hire enough people to keep up with recent growth. In some warehouses overseas, Prologis, the world’s latest industrial property owner, has even added amenities like soccer pitches in Europe and convenience stores in Japan.