Demand for transportation in cities has declined severely due to the coronavirus pandemic, and as such drivers are struggling to find work. Uber is rolling out a new feature for drivers that are designed to help them find work during this crisis, even if that job is for a different company.
Uber drivers received an email Monday announcing a new feature in the driver app called Work Hub, designed to help drivers make money with other companies at the company. Drivers can use the Hub to receive orders through Uber Eats; hauling cargo with the company’s trucking business, Uber Freight; choose a shift with Uber’s temporary worker program, Uber Works; or respond to an opening by more than a dozen other companies seeking to hire.
Like most ridesharing services, Uber has seen a precipitous drop in passenger numbers as a result of the pandemic. The company’s gross reserves in Seattle, a city badly affected by COVID-19, fell by 60 to 70 percent, and Uber is assuming a similar decline in other major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. The virus has reduced Uber’s overall business by as much as 50 percent, according to The Information.
The company is providing financial assistance to drivers who have contracted COVID-19 or who have suspended their accounts or have been ordered by quarantine by public health officials, although some drivers have had trouble requesting help from the transportation company. New York City offers to hire Uber and Lyft drivers without a job, and even promises to reimburse them for their driving expenses. However, many drivers have seen their earnings run out and are seeking unemployment insurance through the recently approved federal stimulus package.
The Work Hub is designed to help drivers find new opportunities while keeping them working within the Uber ecosystem. The company says it has seen an increase in Uber Eats orders for independent restaurants since mid-March, especially in cities like Seattle and San Francisco. Similarly, Uber Freight is looking for drivers with commercial driver’s licenses to help with cargo transportation. The company, which claims to have identified 240,000 regular Uber drivers with CDL, will expedite the enrollment of interested drivers and connect them to operators through the Hub.
But Uber doesn’t have enough work to fill every unit it seeks to win, so it’s partnering with dozens of outside companies to help fill in the gaps. Through its Uber Works program, the company is working with staffing companies in Chicago, Dallas and Miami to connect drivers to temporary work at grocery stores, food production and chain companies. supply that they are staffing. This includes concerts with the Kroger Meal Kit and Chicago-based food delivery company Home Chef.
Finally, the Work Hub will feature job openings with “almost 15 companies” that are hiring right now, says Uber. These include 7-Eleven, Albertsons, Dollar Tree, FedEx, Hertz, Land O’Lakes, McDonald’s, PepsiCo, UPS, and Walgreens, among others.
The Work Hub will be updated with new opportunities and job offers in real-time. Initially, it will only be available to drivers in the US. Although for those in the UK, Uber is partnering with online retailer Ocado to inform drivers of food-delivery opportunities.