Driver loading a vehicle in a warehouse

Changes to work environments for driving and warehouse jobs

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about many adjustments to the way we work. Even now, as much of the population moves back to the workplace, there are required changes to the work environment to make it safer. Here we look at some of the key changes seen in driving jobs and warehouse jobs and how they have affected the work environment for the logistics industries.

Changes in the world of warehousing

In our blog 'What does the new normal look like for warehouse jobs?' we looked at some of the things that warehouses were doing to comply with government guidance and help keep their workers safe during the height of the pandemic. As we come out the other side, we can see the changes that have now become part of the norm for the warehouse work environment.

As in all sectors, the warehousing industry has seen an increased focus on hygiene and safety, and many of the new cleaning standards and procedures brought into the warehouse workplace are here to stay. Safety advice during the pandemic also required improved ventilation to circulate fresh clean air. This improved air quality has made the environment much better for those in warehouse jobs.

To help avoid close contact between workers many warehouses brought in one-way systems. This, along with screens and adequate spacing at workstations, as well as staggered shifts and break times are all positive changes that, where practical, may continue to stay in place.

During lockdown people turned to online shopping, a trend that is continuing. This has meant an increased demand for warehouse space and larger, more sophisticated warehouses are being seen. Alongside this, warehousing businesses are increasing the use of automated systems to help cope with demand and to reduce the need for lots of employees working close to each other.

Changes in the world of driving and logistics

We’ve all been there – just a few clicks on our keyboard, or a couple of taps on our phone and a new pair of shoes can be in the back of a van with a Delivery Driver, on its way to you within hours.

The pandemic saw a huge increase in online shopping for all kinds of consumer goods; electronics, clothing, homewares and, of course, food. Online shopping reached a record high of 34% of retail sales in May 20201. Since the reopening of non-essential shops after lockdown, this figure dropped to 28% by summer 2021, but it still remains well above the pre-pandemic level of 20%.2

This increase in online shopping resulted in a surge in demand for Drivers throughout lockdown and beyond and is the biggest change seen by those in driving jobs. At the beginning of the supply chain HGV Drivers are needed to keep goods moving between manufacturers, warehouses and distribution centres. At the end, Delivery Drivers are needed to bring goods to the end user, both commercially and for home delivery.

The new work environments for driving jobs and warehouse jobs

One of the key things we all learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic is the importance of hygiene. Both in our personal lives and the workplace, cleaning our hands and things we touch regularly became a top priority.

In some work environments, deep cleaning was not always considered important. However, as many people in warehouse jobs and driving jobs continued to work during the pandemic, they saw new, more frequent cleaning regimes put in place to ensure workstations, equipment and vehicles were thoroughly sanitised. This is now expected and is especially important where workers on different shifts are sharing spaces. Hand washing and the use of hand sanitiser is also encouraged, and you will find more facilities are providing for this, along with signage to remind people of its importance. There is also an increased focus on safety measures for Drivers, particularly their physical wellbeing and ensuring they have full access to welfare facilities at collection and delivery points.

Depending on where you are in the UK, the use of facemasks may no longer be mandatory; however, some workplaces may still encourage this, especially where people are working closely together in small or enclosed spaces, or for Drivers when they are delivering packages to customers.

Some changes that were made because of the requirements of the pandemic may have turned out to be an improvement. The rules on social distancing are changing across the UK and are now only a legal requirement in some places. However, where new layouts and procedures have been successful in warehouses, they are likely to stay in place. Delivery Drivers still do not ask for a signature at the door, making drop offs safer and faster.

As part of their risk assessments, many warehouses have also improved their ventilation systems, especially in more enclosed areas, or places where several people work in close proximity. Wherever possible, more natural fresh air is brought in through opening windows, doors and vents, or mechanical ventilation systems have been improved to ensure a good flow of clean air.

At the height of the pandemic warehousing jobs and driving jobs had to cope with fluctuating staff levels, so those working had to cover shifts and work longer hours. The main cause was people having to shield or self-isolate. Since August 2021, the requirements for self-isolating have changed which should see fewer people needing to take time off. If you are fully vaccinated or under the age of 18 years and 6 months, it is no longer necessary to self-isolate if you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. However, if you have symptoms, you should take a test and self-isolate if you are positive.

The changes in purchasing behaviour and consumer demand since the pandemic began has had a big effect on fulfilment and distribution. In 2020, the amount of warehouse space used in the UK was more than two thirds higher than the previous year.3 This means we may see more and bigger warehouses and has led the industry to turn to automation to make better use of space, run more efficiently and make a safer work environment for employees.

For more insights, our blog last year on the 'Future of work: post COVID-19 world of warehouse jobslooked at some of the possible long-term effects on the warehouse work environment.

The outlook for driving and warehousing jobs

From June to August 2021, job vacancies in the transport and storage sector saw one of the fastest growth rates, up 76.3% from the previous quarter, March to May 2021.4 This need for people in driving jobs and warehouse jobs is a result of both the increased workload in the sector, combined with a drop in staff availability as some left to find jobs in other areas.

For anyone considering a career in logistics, the impact of the pandemic has resulted in some positive changes to the work environment. These can help give you the confidence to choose driving jobs or warehouse jobs as a positive career move.

Where next?

You can find our latest warehouse jobs hereand here are the latest driving jobs.

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