NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Employees may not recognize their offices when they return because owners are reimagining the workplace to adjust to the new reality they face against the coronavirus pandemic.
"There are a lot of people suddenly in need of a home office setup," said Greg Hayes, co-founder and chief executive officer of Branch - a high-quality furniture line based in Manhattan.
Hayes tells Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso its home office furniture sales have grown exponentially since March.
"We're going to have an entire line of the company that's focused on building out a work from home environment," he said on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by BNB Bank.
"By far the biggest thing is an ergonomic chair," Hayes said of its customers' home office needs. "We can barely keep up with demand for ergonomic chair sales."
Experts say an ergonomic workstation can reduce or prevent discomfort in your back, neck and other stress areas. An ergonomic chair supports one's body in a neutral position to allow for long periods sitting at a desk rather than being hunched over the computer.
The Branch CEO said desks and storage products, namely credenzas, and filing cabinets are also in increased demand amid the pandemic.
Hayes started in commercial real estate in Toronto, Canada before moving to New York City and launching Branch in 2018. The furniture store allows companies to trade-in its used Branch furniture for a store credit to update its workspace. Now, many businesses will be doing that to implement social distancing measures.
"Things like acrylic panels or fabric panels to separate employees or spacing furniture out with things like credenzas. That's been popular across the board," he said.
An entrepreneur on Staten Island is manufacturing partitions for the newly designed workplace.
"It's very modern-looking, it'll fit into pretty much any atmosphere you bring it into and we're able to customize them," said Scott Weisberg of Everything Entertainment.
The events company owner made several pivots when weddings and parties he had on the calendar were canceled. Weisberg was inspired by an advertisement online and immediately started looking into how he could improve other partitions on the market.
"We make stuff out of acrylic, we make stuff out of plexiglass, and everything else all the time. I can make this in my shop," he thought a few weeks ago even though he wasn't enamored with the thin profit margins, but felt, "We could do something to help out."
Weisberg's new clients include a veterinary office, a real estate firm and beauty salons. He's received interest from Manhattan building managers to install these so-called sneeze guards at reception desks.
Aside from the new service, he made adjacent moves to his existing hospitality business of 32 years to rent tents to existing local hospital clients in the Tri-State Area and state governments for COVID-19 testing sites.
Restaurateurs are calling Weisberg for long-term rentals of its modular tents to maximize their outdoor space to allow for social distancing when they are allowed to reopen for dine-in meals.
"It's limitless on what we can provide," he said, laughing that he doesn't know how much modular tent space he owns. "Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands square feet, I have no idea. It's a lot."
Weisberg and Hayes, like many entrepreneurs, are tapping into their creativity and seemingly endless stream of ideas to develop solutions to survive and make a positive impact during an unprecedented time in history that has significantly altered the way businesses operate. The COVID-19 pandemic is also accelerating the implementation of advanced technology in industries that have been largely undisrupted.
Listen to the WCBS Small Business Spotlight Podcast on the RADIO.COM app or on the media player above for more on what the future of industries look like post-coronavirus.