Employee health and safety is Zalando’s number one priority. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have adapted our processes and business activities to enable many of our employees to work from home. In places where working from home is not possible, we have introduced extensive safety and hygiene measures. These measures meet and often exceed government requirements. In addition, we have been offering free and voluntary testing for COVID-19 since summer 2020. Learn more about the details of Zalando’s testing program from Daniel Behlert, Director Logistics Warehouses.
How does Zalando handle testing for COVID-19?
We offer daily antigen tests for employees at our logistics centres and at Zalando studios, where we shoot the photos for our online store. The tests are free and participation is voluntary. It’s an important part of our concept, which includes mandatory face masks, social distancing and strict hygiene measures. Tests do not replace other measures but are rather a supplement to them.
As the Director of Zalando’s German logistics centers, you have been actively involved in implementing the program. What has the process looked like?
When it became obvious that the coronavirus could set off a global pandemic, a task force started preparing strategies and scenarios. We needed to find an answer to the question of what we could do to ensure maximum safety for our employees. It became clear early on that testing could provide additional safety. That’s why we started offering antibody and PCR tests at our logistics centers in summer 2020. As soon as rapid antigen test kits had been approved by the authorities in fall 2020, we started offering more and more of these. We are offering the test in cooperation with external partners, in order to not put an additional burden on local medical laboratories. We also provide employees at our office locations with a free COVID 19 self-test twice a week. Of course, we continue to encourage all colleagues to work remotely if their job allows it.
How many tests are being performed on a regular basis?
We are really happy that many employees want to get tested. It’s an easy way to improve safety for families, colleagues, and of course, the employees themselves. At our German logistics centers, where some 7,000 employees work, more than 100,000 tests have been carried out. Currently, we see up to around 5,300 rapid antigen tests each week.
How are the actual tests done?
The tests are conducted by medically trained personnel. This happens in separate and safe facilities on our premises. Results are delivered in as little as 15 to 20 minutes. If the test result is positive, a PCR test is used for confirmation.
There must have been some challenges...
One of the biggest challenges is to develop a testing infrastructure that really works. Thousands of people work in our logistics centres. You need to inform each person about the testing program and offer them individual appointments. The tests need to be performed by medically trained personnel. And you need to meet all the standards required by law. You need a lot of planning expertise to make these things happen. On top of that, we constantly provide information on our testing program and why it makes sense to get tested at each of our locations. This helps keep “testing willingness” as high as possible.
What are your future plans for Zalando’s testing program?
We will continue offering free and voluntary testing, as the cost and effort are truly worth it for us. Additionally, authorized by Berlin’s data protection authority, a team at Zalando is working on building a statistical model that could predict the probability of an anonymized person getting infected with COVID-19 at work. We hope to offer tests in an even more targeted manner and to break a potential chain of infection as early as possible.