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Coronavirus Creates New Landscape for Some Businesses

Firms are trying to navigate through uncharted waters


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 ... it’s clear that the coronavirus is changing the landscape on how we conduct business.

Businesses are trying to adapt to what has become the new coronavirus created landscape. That covers many areas such as demand surges or reassuring customers who are concerned about contagion between drivers and passengers.

Also, dealing with public relations crises or restructuring operations in response to new demand spikes, safety concerns, and distribution needs have brought about new challenges.

Uber’s no contact, leave at door delivery options

Uber explains the change it made on its new coronavirus website. “We understand that you may be relying more on food delivery right now. If you prefer, you can leave a note in the Uber Eats app to ask your delivery person to leave your food at the door.”

In addition, with gig jobs on the rise and financial assistance neither guaranteed nor expected, companies are also finding it necessary to assure customers that sick employees who need the money won't just disregard health advisories and work anyway.

Uber addresses this concern by cutting a break to employees who catch the disease.

“Any driver or delivery person who is diagnosed with COVID‑19 or is individually asked to self‑isolate by a public health authority will receive financial assistance for up to 14 days while their account is on hold. We’ve already helped drivers in some affected areas, and we’re working to quickly implement this worldwide.” Uber even goes so far as to “chart average driver earnings and how they translate to compensation.”

Lyft Spells Out its New Policies

Meanwhile, Uber’s biggest competitor, Lyft, has also rolled out assurances to customers concerned that the app-based rideshare service might result in coronavirus transmission between drivers and passengers. Lyft goes into more detail with its response.

“If we are notified of a rider or driver testing positive for COVID-19, they will be temporarily suspended from using Lyft until they are medically cleared.

“In this event, we will also follow guidance from the CDC and local health officials to identify other individuals who may have been impacted.

“We will provide funds to drivers should they be diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under individual quarantine by a public health agency. This helps support drivers financially when they can't drive, while also protecting our riders’ health.

“These funds will be given to affected drivers who are identified to us by public health officials or who contact our support team to self-report and provide documentation that they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under individual quarantine by a public health agency.

“We will provide funds to affected drivers based on the rides they provided on the Lyft platform over the last four weeks.”

Sometimes Companies Fumble the Ball

Even a pandemic as powerful as COVID-19 cannot extract the deep-rooted puritanical work ethic from our cultural DNA. It is both fascinating and horrifying to watch these play out in public relations fiascos like the backlash against Whole Foods. Vice reported that a Motherboard reviewed email by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey revealed the high-end grocery store chain emailed retail employees advising them to “donate” their paid time off (PTO) to the coworkers the company deprives of this benefit.

“Team Members who have a medical emergency or death in their immediate family can receive donated PTO hours,” Mackey wrote, “not only from Team Members in their own location but also from Team Members across the country.”

In response, Vanity Fair Special Correspondent and best-selling author Nick Bilton captured this beautifully in this tweet comparing what other corporations were sacrificing to what Whole Foods were asking its hourly retail employees to sacrifice.

“One of these is not like the other: Taco Bell CEO: We’ll pay all of our employees no matter what. Delta CEO: I am forgoing my entire salary for 6 months to avoid layoffs. Whole Foods CEO: Employees who are not sick should ‘donate’ their vacation time to sick employees.”

Given its buyout by delivery juggernaut Amazon, one would expect Whole Foods drive by pickup, home delivery services and Prime membership perks would optimally position the brand as a home delivery service golden child. A request that its employees donate their hard-earned sick days to the employees the company deprives of this benefit, however, revealed the brand’s abusive and predatory nature and this will be hard to recover from.

However, they are doing their best. A March 16 press release indicates Whole Foods is trying to make good by money at the situation punching up hourly salaries by $2.

Addressing employee and product shortages

Like its subsidiary, Amazon is also bumping up fulfillment worker salaries, according to CNN Business, “it will pay an additional $2 USD per hour above the base hourly rate of $15 or more, depending on the region in the United States, £2 more per hour in the United Kingdom and €2 more per hour in many European countries,” it assures its customers as it rolls out aggressive new hiring practices.

Amazon’s coronavirus notifications tell customers that, “in the short term, we are making the decision to temporarily prioritize household staples, medical supplies and other high demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so we can more quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers. We are working around the clock with our selling partners to ensure availability of these essential products, and continue to bring on additional capacity to deliver customer orders.”

Amazon is ramping up hiring, opening 100,000 new roles to support people relying on Amazon’s service in this stressful time. It announced it will invest $350 million globally in the ramp-up.

Lifting paywalls so people stay connected through arts & culture

While the social distancing measures precluding large gatherings is closing down theaters and stadiums all over the country, The Metropolitan Opera has dropped its paywall for live opera recordings and Pixar began streaming "Frozen 2" three months earlier than planned on Disney Plus.

In addition, the podcasting distributor Zencastr is lifting limits for Hobbyist users according to a press release.

“We know many of you aren't able to record your podcasts in person right now since you are self-quarantined. Or perhaps you're using your downtime to get caught up on your upcoming podcast episodes. We want to help. That's why, starting immediately, there will be no limits on recording hours or participants for Hobbyist users. We'll keep this in effect through July 1, 2020. We hope this brightens your days, and helps you continue to record and connect with others as much as possible even though you may be stuck indoors.”

Cable Companies are Cutting Low-Income Users Some Slack

Cable companies are also looking for new ways to rebrand and support the public’s need for current health updates and advisories. A Comcast press release details the cable company’s commitment to low-income users by offering to make free WiFi available in public places. “During this extraordinary time, it is vital that as many Americans as possible stay connected to the Internet – for education, work, and personal health reasons,” Comcast Cable President and Chief Executive Officer Brian L. Roberts is quoted as saying.

Still, better access to free WiFi in public spaces doesn’t necessarily translate to the needs of people who depend on their data and are now forced to work at home, however, Darla DeMorrow, Certified Professional Organizer and author of The Upbeat, Organized Home Office, pointed out.

She adds that public hotspots provide a slower speed than what you’re going to have in your home from your own router.” Emphasizing the importance of being proactive about obtaining a good home cable connection saying people who need “a better connection to be able to work at home. She recommends calling your provider and asking the following questions:

1. Am I getting the best service I can for my area?

2. Is my router up to date?

3. Do you have a better, faster service available for purchase?”

“Expect to pay for a better residential or business service” says DeMorrow. When AppGrooves asked how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted sales of the book she released in January, she said last weekend sales tripled in volume. The Upbeat, Organized Home Office is available on Amazon where it is listed as a #1 bestseller in home based small businesses. 

As some companies take the lead on supporting customers as well as employees through this crisis, and others stumble through the process, it’s clear that the coronavirus is changing the landscape on how we conduct business. 

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Coronavirus Creates New Landscape for Some Businesses




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