The reputation of working in an Amazon warehouse isn't exactly held in the highest regard.
Reports and firsthand stories about working conditions in one of the physically and mentally exhausting "fulfillment centers" means every action Amazon takes is scrutinized online.
Which is why it's surprising Amazon didn't expect backlash to their announcement of the newest offering coming soon to a warehouse near you. The ZenBooth is being rolled out as part of Amazon's wellness initiative announced earlier this month.
Amazon shared the news on Twitter.
amazonnews / Twitter
People are already calling it basically a porta-potty but with a very limited computer in place of a toilet.
You can see their promotional video here:
In their since deleted tweet, the company announced the booth as part of it's "WorkingWell" initiative. In a separate press release, Amazon committed itself to the safety and mental well being of its employees.
The first major public program under this banner is Amazen, the mindfulness program that runs in the ZenBooth. It's an interactive kiosk to take employees through mindful practices.
In the video, the booth also seems to have plants, a fan to cool down the space, and the skylight above is tinted blue to simulate sky.
However, Amazon has been accused of treating its employees like machines, and while a mindfulness booth might seem like a more humanizing touch, the language in the video says otherwise.
Leila Brown, the Amazon employee who invented the booth, says in the video:
"With AmaZen I wanted to create a space that's quiet, that people could go and focus on their mental and emotional well-being. The ZenBooth is an interactive kiosk where you can navigate through a library of mental health and mindful practices to recharge the internal battery."
To many companies, referring to an employee recharging their battery might be innocuous. To a company accused of treating their employees like robots, it sent a very bad message.
Because of this, people were quick to criticize the initiative.
The WorkingWell initiative isn't limited to just the ZenBooth. It also looks to provide physical and mental support to employees in a variety of ways.
WorkingWell will have employees watch videos on health and safety topics, designated spaces for stretching, timed prompts to meditate and healthy snacks in the break room. WorkingWell will not include a reduction in the long shifts and high stress working conditions people argue might be more helpful.
Research has shown time and time again time off and breaks actually help with productivity. A less demanding working environment will maybe cut back on the high injury rates at the warehouses that caused the need for this program in the first place.
Until Amazon takes meaningful steps to improve their workers' pay and working conditions, any other initiatives they start will feel like a small bandage over a gaping wound to the public.
And the internet will not hesitate to turn that initiative into a joke.
The public image of Amazon is very low, especially after an incident earlier this year involving their delivery drivers.
The official account for Amazon News responded to a comment by Democratic Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin about drivers peeing in bottles to try and cut back on their time away from work and hit their grueling goals.
Amazon denied the story was true.
The internet quickly pointed out how wrong they were in this situation. Amazon later retracted their claim and acknowledged the story was accurate.