Coronavirus quarantine boosts home office furniture sales

Shopify, Spotify are among companies giving employees a stipend to buy office supplies

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Employees required to work from home to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus are contributing to the rise in sales of office supplies and furniture.

Some workers are investing in home office furniture while working from home during the quarantine. 

Brooklyn, New York-based Katie Franko, 29, who works in marketing, spent $285 on a round table big enough to hold two desktop monitors and seat two people so she and her boyfriend can comfortably work out of their one-bedroom apartment during the coronavirus quarantine.

“I wanted to make sure we were comfortable in our working conditions since we’ll be in it for the long haul,” Franko told FOX Business.

Katie Franko and her boyfriend invested $285 in a new table and chairs from Amazon to make working from home easier in their one-bedroom apartment. (Courtesy of Katie Franko). 

She also bought in two chairs for $80 each on Amazon.

“I made sure I liked how they looked rather than just a folding table,” Franko said.

While Franko and her partner split the expenses for their new work-from-home furniture, some companies are offering employees a stipend to buy what they need to make the transition from office to home easier in during the current pandemic.

WORKING FROM HOME: DO'S AND DON'TS 

E-commerce software company Shopify, which has 5,000 employees worldwide, is providing them with a $1,000 stipend to buy equipment such as office chairs, a new desk and lamps by submitting what it calls a “one-time remote allowance” through their expenses as they work from home until further notice. Others, like music-streaming service Spotify, have allowed employees to spend $250 for a monitor and $250 for a chair or desk. And Facebook is giving workers free Portal video chat devices upon request, Protocol reported. Prices for the products range from $129 to $279.

Facebook did not respond to a FOX Business inquiry about the distribution of the Portal devices.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
SHOPSHOPIFY INC1,056.49-12.51-1.17%
FBFACEBOOK INC.267.56+6.16+2.36%
SPOTSPOTIFY TECHNOLOGY261.00+0.03+0.01%

Apartment Therapy, a lifestyle blog focused on home design and décor, has seen a 50 percent increase in “likes” on Instagram posts related specifically to home office settings and a spike in searches related to home office furniture for small spaces or new homes.

“We’re seeing a surge in interest from our readers about how to carve out work-from-home spaces,” said Laura Schocker, Apartment Therapy's editor-in-chief. “They’re looking for advice on creating work areas that foster productivity while also feeling attractive and sustainable, especially since no one knows how long this situation will last.”

VIDEOCONFERENCING TIPS TO WEATHER CORONAVIRUS FROM HOME

Schocker recommends using a monitor, keyboard and mouse instead of solely relying on a laptop, citing research that suggests people with larger screens complete work tasks more quickly. Comfort is also key, she said, and recommended investing in a comfortable chair. And working from a table or desk instead of the couch is essential.

“It's hard enough to sleep with all of the upheaval and change happening right now," Schocker said. "Don't let your brain associate the places where you sleep and relax during off hours with the stress of the day.”

Kristin Walsifer spent $50 on a desk from online furniture website Wayfair to avoid working from the couch. (Courtesy of Walsifer)

Researchers say that when people bring work materials or laptops into their sleep environment, it weakens the mental association between work and bedtime.

“Keeping computers, TVs and work materials out of the room will strengthen the mental association between your bedroom and sleep,” according to researchers from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

To avoid this, New Jersey native Kristin Walsifer, 30, decided to upgrade with a new desk to physically separate her work and life at home.

“I wanted a space that would solely be dedicated to my work and away from our ‘living space,’" Walsifer, who works in marketing, said of investing in a $50 desk from online furniture and home goods retailer Wayfair.

“At the end of the day, I want to close my laptop and relocate to a new area, and not close it and be on the couch where I’d been sitting all day,” she said.

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