Being located in Bellevue, WA (Seattle), directly adjacent to Kirkland and ground-zero for the first community spread outbreak of COVID-19 in the USA, we have been following best practices as an employer from the very outset of this outbreak (see more on that below).
Since then we've candidly been deluged with orders, as millions of workers have found themselves needing to work from home full-time without a properly ergonomic office setup. Over the past couple of months our incredibly dedicated employees have been working around the clock to assist our customers, recognizing that many of them work in critical industries such as health care, IT, banking, utilities and government. As a supplier enabling workers to perform their duties from home our business was specifically identified as "critical" in our own governor Jay Inslee's Stay Home Proclamation, which empowered us to designate our component suppliers and factories in Michigan to continue operations.
Manufacturing our desks in the USA has been a market advantage for us ever since we switched away from less reliable Chinese component suppliers a few years ago, but in particular right now while supply chains from China are so badly disrupted. While our online competitors who sell Chinese-made bases are out of stock on many things we have continued to ship on time and retain deep inventories of all components in order to continue to be able to support workers in critical lifeline industries.
In addition to rapidly hiring and training additional staff members and deepening inventories of long-lead components in order to keep up with the demand we have opened up our hours of operation (live chat and phone) to 6am-9pm Pacific / 9am-midnight Eastern. We apologize in advance if you ever hear children or pets in the background as our employees work from home.
We are also creating new "quick ship" desk options for customers who prefer not to wait for our made-to-order soild wood desks to be manufactured (normally 3-5 weeks depending on species). By mid-April we expect to be pre-manufacturing the most popular colors and sizes for next day shipment in order to satisfy those customers.
What real-world challenges we are facing in the supply chain:
Update 3/31/20: Please note that our order volume has exploded due to the number of workers suddenly needing to work from a home office. We are doing everything in our control to keep orders flowing as smoothly as possible as we fully understand the importance to our customers of timely shipment. We are at the same time experiencing numerous spotty delays from both suppliers and freight carriers at this time. Some orders may be delayed up to a few days beyond our published delivery time promise. We ourselves in some cases do not get informed of slight delays until after the fact. You will be contacted by our customer service team if any inordinate delays are encountered. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.
For entirely different reasons iMovR began shifting away from Chinese suppliers several years ago, and we now manufacture all of our standing desks in the USA - both bases and tops. All our 3D-laminated and solid-wood desktops are made in Michigan, from sustainable domestic forests.
When it comes to Lander and Freedom line standing desks we do not anticipate any component shortages in the foreseeable future. Our EcoLast standing mats and Tempo seats are also entirely made in Missouri, Ohio and Texas using polyurethane that is entirely sourced in the USA. The Thermotread GT is manufactured entirely in Taiwan, currently unimpacted. While the popular ZipLift line of standing desk converters were made in China, we not only have very deep inventories of these but future production is already coming in from a new factory established in Taiwan over the past few months. This shift was already underway due to trade tariffs, and so we do not expect any interruption of supply of ZipLift converters in the foreseeable future. Cadence converters are also manufactured in Taiwan and are unimpacted.
We do still source a small minority of products from China, especially all the iMovR+Eureka products. Given current challenges in the supply chain in China we've already seen a few highly popular items sell out for which we don't expect to see replenished inventory for potentially several months. These items are clearly indicated as being out of stock on our site, and some of these cannot presently be backordered because we do not have clear resupply date commitments as yet.
What we can neither predict or control are logistics issues, both domestic and international. We do anticipate that as Chinese factories resume capacity and catch up on backorders US cargo ports may become jammed, delaying incoming shipments by weeks or even months, particularly in Q3'2020. We have noticed some of our competitors that rely on the supply of Chinese-made desk bases are showing long backorder times.
We also imagine that the domestic trucking industry, already highly challenged over the past few years with a nationwide shortage of drivers, may be significantly impacted as drivers who contract the virus have to take time off for recovery. In addition, many drivers are being diverted to deliver food and household goods right now, which will continue to surge for some time. This may impact our ability to deliver our products to our customers within the standard delivery window. This will be the trickiest aspect of maintaining normal operations because freight and parcel carriers are unlikely to have advance warning themselves, much less are they likely to notify shippers like us in advance of delays.
The most palpable consequence of Covid-19 on product delivery at this time is that freight carriers will no longer deliver inside customers' premises. This means our Room-of-Choice and White-Glove-Delivery freight upgrades are temporarily suspended. All shipments will be delivered to the threshold (i.e. "first dry location") or loading dock until further notice.
What we recommend other employers keep front-of-mind right now:
Custom-made desks ordered today should are still leaving the factory on time (one week to produce 3D-laminate desks, 3-5 weeks for solid wood desks), and are typically delivered anywhere in the lower 48 states within one business week of transit time. We have no ability to predict when the supply chain, our factories or logistics carriers may be impacted to the point that it affects our delivery times. In other words, if ordering desks for your employees is in your plans it would be wise not to delay decision making and ordering any longer than necessary. We know this sounds self-serving but it's the truth. Factories are run by people and it takes people to drive trucks.
Please visit our new Work@Home Collection where we've gathered all our factory pre-assembled desks, tables and desktop converter models that are ideal for employees suddenly finding themselves working from home and needing ergonomic workstations that arrive quickly and install effortlessly. While we have less expensive desk models - including DIY sit-stand bases - they do require the user to have a toolbox and some mechanical skills to put together, which is why our Collection includes only "pre-assembled" products.
Another advantage of iMovR desks is that unlike competitors' that are made with cheap imported desktops that would be easily damaged by harsh chemicals, our hermetically-sealed, 3D-laminated desktops are healthcare grade and can be cleaned with bleach and other harsh disinfectants without any issue whatsoever. That's one reason iMovR desks are so popular with major healthcare systems.
What we're doing for our own employees:
- Providing ergonomically-outfitted standing desks to all employees who don't already have them at home. That means adding ergonomic monitor arms, keyboard trays and anti-fatigue mats so that can comfortably and productively work from their home office workstations all day.
- In some cases providing office treadmills (where space in the home office allows), because gyms and community centers may be closed for long periods of time. While not a replacement for cardio exercise it will help our employees maintain movement throughout the day and stay optimally productive.
- Setting up remote desktop software so employees can connect with our secure servers on-premises.
- Minimizing the number of people who need to be at the office at the same time when working on collaborative projects. Only a minimum complement of employees will be absolutely needed to staff shipping/receiving and the SitLess Demonstration Showroom. If you plan to visit our showroom in Bellevue please call ahead to schedule an appointment.
- Letting employees know that days working from home will not be debited from their sick+vacation day allowances. By the same token beseeching no one to be heroic and come into work despite being sick. If they have symptoms we ask them to remain home until completely well, if for no other reason than to alleviate concerns of co-workers, even if all they have is the common cold or influenza. For this same reason we encourage all employees who have not yet done to to get their flu shots, it will help avoid confusion with similar symptoms of COVID-19.
- Handing out Purell and disinfectant for everyone to keep their hands and work surfaces as clean as possible. Encouraging frequent hand-washing (at least 20 seconds).
- Cancelling all air travel and industry conferences. Encouraging video conferencing alternatives in lieu thereof.
Because we already use Slack, LiveChat and other technologies in our daily work lives this transition will not be as impactful on our productivity as it might be at other companies. We sought out expert medical advice to make sure our employees are educated on how to minimize unnecessary exposure.
Our factories in Michigan, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Texas, China, Taiwan, Denmark, Sweden and Lithuania are each taking their own steps as appropriate for their manufacturing teams. The robots in most of these facilities are cool with the whole virus thing.