(Natural News) Social media users recently slammed technology giant Amazon’s proposed wellness chamber for its workers. According to the company, the chamber is designed as a space for stressed warehouse employees to relax and meditate. However, the ZenBooth pod was likened to less savory counterparts – such as a coffin and a portable toilet.
Amazon announced its plan to install ZenBooths at its warehouses through a video on its Twitter account. However, it took down the post following mockery by social media users. The company said the wellness chambers aim to help staff focus on their mental health. “During shifts, employees can visit [the ZenBooths] and watch short videos featuring easy-to-follow well-being activities including guided meditations positive affirmations [and] calming scenes with sounds,” it added.
The ZenBooth contained leaflets and small potted plants on a shelf. It also had a fan inside to keep the employee cool. The only furniture inside was a chair and a small computer table against one side of the booth. The top of the ZenBooth was painted to look like a blue sky with clouds.
Workplace Health and Safety Program Manager Leila Brown said in the now-deleted video: “The ZenBooth is an interactive kiosk where you can navigate through a library of mental health and mindfulness practices to recharge the internal battery.” Brown, who also created the ZenBooth, explained the rationale behind the wellness chamber. “I wanted to create a space that’s quiet; [a space] that people could go [to] and focus on their mental and emotional well-being,” she said.
But some social media users disparaged the wellness chamber in their posts. One user said they mentioned the ZenBooth as “a coffin for [one’s] dignity” during a real-life conversation. Another user joked about having a “peaceful break” inside the chamber as coworkers stare at the lower half of their body. The Daily Mail has reached out to Amazon for comment on the ZenBooths, but has not received any response.
Amazon has been criticized for dismal working conditions
The Jeff Bezos-helmed company has faced repeated criticism about its facilities’ working conditions. In response, Amazon launched its WorkingWell program in May 2021 to focus on giving staff members “physical and mental activities, wellness exercises and healthy eating support.” It added that these aim to “ultimately reduce the risk of injury” and reduce incidents of workplace accidents by 50 percent come 2025.
The program also included “separate wellness zones” where employees can perform stretching exercises with the help of interactive videos and written guides. The ZenBooths – also called “mindful practice rooms” – are also part of this endeavor.
A May 17 release by the company said: “The health and safety of our employees has always been Amazon’s top priority. We work closely with health and safety experts and scientists, [and] we conduct thousands of safety inspections each day in our buildings. [We have also] made hundreds of changes as a result of employee feedback on how we can improve their well-being at work.” (Related: Amazon warehouse workers attempt to commit suicide on the job due to atrocious “slave-like” work conditions.)
But prior to implementing the WorkingWell program, Amazon drew flak for adamantly denying reports that its workers had to urinate in bottles due to the difficulty of taking bathroom breaks. British journalist James Bloodworth revealed the shocking truth in 2018 after he went undercover to work at an Amazon warehouse. Internal documents confirmed the practice, with one management email telling delivery drivers to check their vans for urine-filled bottles and report such instances.
U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) slammed Amazon for its dismal working conditions. “Paying workers $15 per hour doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust [and] make workers urinate in water bottles,” he tweeted. Amazon then replied to the lawmaker: “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us.”
The company later issued an apology to the lawmaker. In an April 3 statement, Amazon admitted that the tweet was “incorrect.” It added that while the issue is “long-standing [and] industry-wide,” it will continue to discuss and look for solutions to the problem. (Related: Amazon apologizes after denying stories of drivers peeing in bottles.)
Amazon’s April 3 statement said: “[The tweet] did not contemplate our large driver population and instead wrongly focused only on our fulfillment centers. A typical Amazon fulfillment center has dozens of restrooms, and employees are able to step away from their work station at any time. If any employee in a fulfillment center has a different experience, we encourage them to speak to their manager and we’ll work to fix it.”
Head over to JeffBezosWatch.com to read more articles about the dismal working conditions at Amazon.