Coronavirus has changed life for just about everyone in the country. The U.S. Department of Labor reported 30.3 million unemployment claims in the last six weeks. That smashed all previous weekly and monthly jobless claim number since the Labor Departmenr began keeping records in 1948. The restaurant, hospitality and entertainment industries have been hit the hardest.
Tech-oriented cities will be the least affected by the economic downturn, according to the Brookings Institute. San Jose and San Francisco are among those cities named in the study. The Bay Area already had one of the highest concentrations of telecommuters in the entire country. Thus many companies transitioned from majority on-site workers to fully remote staffs without much hassle. It's the workers who are forced to make adjustments on the fly.
Bay Area schools are closed due to the lockdown. Parents working in essential businesses (healthcare, supermarkets, etc.) are forced to find daycare for their children to continue working. Meanwhile office workers must get accustomed to having kids, pets and many other distractions around them while working from home. A comfortable office setting is essential for adjusting to your new role. The office furniture industry has experienced a boon as a result of all these conditions.
Office furniture retailers are experiencing spikes in sales due to mandatory lockdowns in several states. The sales increases are being bolstered by companies offering assistance to their employees.
Ottawa-based Shopify is giving its workers $1,000 stipends to purchase home office equipment. A Shopify spokesperson told CNBC that employees took their monitors, laptops and other equipment home when the company ordered mandatory telecommuting on March 16. Workers can buy desks, chairs and other equipment with the stipend, then submit a voucher for reimbursement. Streaming music platform Spotify is giving employees $500 for office chairs and desks. Many office furniture blogs, including Eco Office, are experiencing upticks in traffic as telecommuters look for advice and ideas.
Facebook is one of several Bay Area companies looking to ease the transition for telecommuters. It's offering complementary Portal video devices to expedite meetings and other internal communications.
President Donald Trump announced that he is invoking the Defense Production Act on April 2. The law, enacted in 1950, allows the president to force manufacturers to accept contracts to make materials that are deemed necessary and essential. General Electric, Medtronic and four other firms were immediately ordered to produce as many ventilators as possible, as fast as they can. The problem is that ventilators require many complex parts. Thus supply chain coordination is essential for the order to be effective.
Meanwhile several office furniture manufacturers are voluntarily offering their facilities to produce essential items during this time. Michigan-based Steelcase announced that it is producing personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in hospitals. The company is making 6,000 isolation masks and 12,500 face shields every week until the items are no longer needed. Herman Miller closed its factory in Dongguan, China for several weeks due to COVID-19. But the company announced it was back running at full capacity on March 30. The firm did not commit to producing PPE on that date, but said it is considering all options.
Eco Office continues closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation, particularly the lockdowns. We're offering consultations and office preparation services in anticipation of the lockdown cessation. Give us a call today at 408-437-1700 to discuss your office furniture and safety needs.