April 07, 2020 06:51:27
A specialist rideshare company is among the gig economy businesses adapting to life under coronavirus in Australia.
Gig economy businesses are trying new ways to stay visible amid coronavirus restrictionsSome of the industry’s biggest players have changed conditions for workers and customersSome brands have expanded their offerings, while others are looking ahead to when restrictions ease
Shebah, a women and children-only transport service, has introduced a feature called SheDrop to its app, which facilitates the drop-off of items such as groceries and pharmaceutical scripts to the doors of users.
Founder Georgina McEncroe said Shebah has been able to adapt its offering thanks to the trust it has built up among its clients.
“If you take someone’s kids to school every day, you really get to know them,” Ms McEncroe said.
“Because that relationship is already established, there is a real absence of fear within our drivers and our passengers.
“We’re finding it’s that level of trust that has kept us very much in demand for people.”
Since its launch in 2017 the company has partnered with domestic violence agencies in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria to transport women and children to appointments and help them escape family violence.
But since the implementation of coronavirus restrictions the company has relaxed its rules to allow elderly men to join their wives on early morning trips to the supermarket to beat the panic buying rush.
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Changes being made
Many other gig economy outfits have had to make changes over the past three weeks to stay visible and safe while Australians stay home.
Contactless delivery is now common among food delivery services.
Uber is asking passengers to sit in the back to keep some distance between driver and passenger.
Ola says it will pay 14 days’ worth of daily takings to drivers affected by COVID-19.
DiDi has announced drivers will keep 95 per cent of fares up until April 20.
Menulog said it has halved its commission on all pick-up orders to its 17,000 restaurants, has waived activation fees for new businesses, and would spend $3 million on promoting restaurants on social and digital media.
Most of the gig economy brands will not reveal how their apps are trending or how many drivers or users they have, claiming those metrics are “commercially sensitive”.
After the smoke clears
Airtasker, an app that facilitates individual contract work, is looking ahead, according to founder Tim Fung.
“What’s going to be so powerful is there is going to be a climate of uncertainty even when the initial period is over,” Mr Fung said.
“Airtasker can allow for … that steady increase up as people’s uncertainty lowers and people start getting more confident, and because we’ve got all these different categories of work, it’s really adaptive to the change.”
The number of people requesting pick-up and delivery services for food, shopping and parcels in this past week grew by 84 per cent compared to last week, Mr Fung said.
“It’s the simplest form of economy,” he said.
“I’m going to pay you to do something for me and, in reverse, you’ll pay me to do something for you.”