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Balance the load
On midnight deliveries, working from home, and where efficiency gains could still be had
In markets where Amazon has a large enough presence, it's possible to have some deliveries made in the overnight hours. Most consumers would probably view the offer as a matter of convenience (why not get an item at 7am instead of 5pm?), and possibly as an option to reduce the risk of porch piracy (with the package spending less time on the front doorstep than a delivery made in the middle of a work day).
■ But it's surprising that overnight delivery isn't promoted more heavily in Amazon's own self-interest. Using the streets when fewer other drivers are about would have to be of no small advantage, in terms of time lost in traffic and accident risk. And while many delivery drivers would rather keep to conventional working hours, surely some would prefer to be out and about when the roads contain fewer drivers, the sidewalks contain fewer children, and yards contain fewer unleashed pets.
■ If the workplace disruptions of 2020 and onwards have taught us anything, the most important lesson ought to be the virtue of load-balancing. Lots of work takes place during what we might call "surge" hours, simply because that's what we've always done in the past. But when office workers were sent home en masse, no small number of them chose to get things done late at night or early in the morning.
■ Plenty of fortunes are yet to be earned by finding new breakthroughs in technology and innovations in processes. But there's a lot yet to be gained by balancing out the use of many existing resources, from surface streets to electricity to potable water to labor supply, all of which are consumed in their own ways at lumpy intervals. Smoothing those out will continue to be a useful frontier.