Uber, Shell and Disney are Offering Free Services, Donating Food, Money, and Protective Gear, and Keeping People Informed

The clinical, logistical, and social challenges imposed by the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are being felt by organisations in every sector of commercial life. In this article, we’ll be looking at how three very different organisations - Uber, Disney, and Shell - are responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

Uber: Free Rides and Deliveries for Workers, Enhanced Grocery Delivery, and Greater Assistance for Drivers

With lockdown protocols and movement restrictions in force across many markets worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic is precipitating a major drop in demand for Uber services - at least, as far as passenger commuting is concerned. In the USA for example, the company’s gross bookings in Seattle, Washington, are down by 60 to 70 percent, with similar declines in major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York.

This lull in business has naturally taken a toll on Uber’s workforce of occasional drivers. And with drivers also facing the risk of contracting the virus in the course of their duties, Uber has introduced financial assistance and other measures for drivers who have contracted COVID-19, and for those who have had their accounts suspended, or been told to quarantine by public health officials in their local area.

After initially promising to supply drivers with hand sanitisers and car disinfectants in early March, Uber has now started implementing this scheme, beginning with the most active drivers in a few select cities, such as New York. Eligible drivers can place an order in the Uber branded app, and receive shipment free of charge.

“Free of charge” is also the company’s policy toward select workers in the general population adversely affected by COVID-19. Uber is pledging 10 million free rides and deliveries, with the stated condition that ‘any organisation, health care provider, or governmental entity is eligible’. Senior citizens are also included in a scheme that’s seen Uber providing free rides and food deliveries to National Health Service (NHS) workers fighting the novel coronavirus in the UK. Now the company is looking to expand this offer globally.

At the same time, Uber’s food delivery division Uber Eats is enhancing its grocery delivery options in three markets badly hit by the COVID-19 crisis. A partnership with supermarket giant Carrefour in France will provide Parisians with 30 minute home delivery on a range of grocery products, including everyday foods, toiletries, and cleaning products.

In Spain, a partnership with the Galp service station brand will offer delivery of basic foods, over the counter medicines, beverages, and cleaning products in 15 cities across eight provinces. This service will be offered via the Uber Eats app, and also by phone for people without access to a smartphone or internet connection.

In Brazil, Uber is partnering with a range of pharmacies, convenience stores, and pet shops in Sao Paulo, to offer home delivery on basic supplies such as groceries, pharmaceuticals, and pet goods.

Shell: COVID-19 Crisis Management

At the core of its efforts in COVID-19 relief, Shell has put business continuity plans in place to sustain its operations and supply chains, and to keep station forecourts open to maintain crucial services such as ambulances, emergency vehicles, and deliveries on the roads. But the oil giant is also going beyond this.

At over 15,000 participating retail sites across more than 30 countries, Shell is providing free food to health care professionals, as well as to truck drivers and the delivery people who are vital to maintaining supplies. Shell is also escalating the production of hand sanitiser at its various sites around the world, including in Canada, the Netherlands, and Kenya.

In the Netherlands, Shell is helping communities cope with the COVID-19 pandemic by 3D printing parts for the manufacture of face masks and respiratory equipment. The company is doing this as part of a consortium which has been developing new face protectors for doctors, made as “snorkel masks.” These cover the face fully, and are connected to a medical filter by a part produced using 3D printers at the Shell Technology Centre Amsterdam.

Knowing that corporations and private individuals may be experiencing various kinds of difficulty in coping with the pandemic, Shell has set up a web site called Shell Livewire. The resource offers advice and tips on COVID-19 handling for entrepreneurs. Guidelines cover areas including cash and liquidity management, employee well-being, and supply chain risk management.

Disney: Donations of Food and Protective Gear, and Using its Media Networks to Keep Viewers Informed

To support hospitals and health care workers on the front lines, Disney is partnering with MedShare, a humanitarian aid organisation, which will help in distributing goods and equipment that Disney has donated. These contributions include 270 tons of excess food intended for distribution to area food banks, and 150,000 rain ponchos, to be used as protective outer wear for hospital staff and field health workers.

Disney has also donated thousands of N95 surgical masks to different states across the USA, including New York, California, and Florida. This follows earlier donations of unused gloves, gowns, masks, and other medical supplies to hospitals in Los Angeles shortly before Disney facilities in that area were forced to shut down as part of efforts to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, and donations of food to area food banks in California, Georgia, New York, and Canada.

The various platforms of Disney Media Networks’ are maintaining a commitment to keep viewers informed throughout the COVID-19 crisis. For example, ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jen Ashton addresses viewer questions and concerns about COVID-19 during her daily on-air appearances. Meanwhile, Walt Disney Television and ESPN are airing a variety of Public Service Announcements, including some in support of the American Red Cross and Feeding America, while Freeform has launched a #StayTheFFHome campaign to highlight the importance of social distancing for its young adult audience.

With so many of the world’s citizens now confined to their homes through lockdown, the Disney+ streaming service is extending its reach, with launches in March in the UK and most major western European markets. Even with lower streaming speeds in Europe to help ease the burden on broadband networks, the Disney+ viewer base has now expanded to some 50 million subscribers.

Organisational responses to COVID-19 will no doubt be a hot topic at ProcureCon EU 2020, which is scheduled to take place from 13 - 15 October, 2020, at the Hyatt Regency Barcelona Tower. In any event, you can download the agenda today, for more information and insights.

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