Uber UK has launched a Work Hub for drivers to view a selection of temporary work opportunities with other companies as a way to supplement pandemic-hit ride-hailing earnings during the coronavirus crisis.
The Work Hub sits within the Uber driver app and displays offers of work from third party providers — including jobs that involve using a car to make deliveries — offering alternative gigs to drivers whose earnings have been affected by weak demand for ride-hailing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ride-hailing giant rolled out a similar feature in the US back in April, offering drivers there the ability to respond to job postings from around a dozen other companies, as well as the ability to receive orders through other Uber units: Eats, Freight and Works.
The UK flavor of the feature has fewer external suppliers (three at launch) — and seemingly no other internal Uber work gigs on offer.
From today, Uber said UK drivers can access “thousands” of “temporary job postings” and “flexible earning opportunities” with other companies — initially delivery firms Hermes and Yodel.
The recruiter, Adecco Group, is also offering temp work via the UK Work Hub for drivers.
“We’ll continue to add new partnerships and listings to the Work Hub as we find more opportunities for you, so check the Driver app regularly for updates,” Uber adds in a blog post announcing the launch.
The company has previously emailed UK drivers encouraging them to sign up for delivery work with the online supermarket Ocado, as demand for grocery delivery has surged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But it’s now made this signposting more formal, via the Work Hub — and says the “thousands” of jobs are additional to any Ocado opportunities it had already emailed to UK drivers.
It’s not clear why Uber UK is not offering drivers the ability to pick up Uber Eats orders to tide themselves over.
However the Eats vs Uber ride-hailing labor force in the country likely has relatively little overlap, with cycle and motorbike couriers dominating UK Eats deliveries. Additionally, no UK cities keen to encourage extra cars to hit the streets right now — so Uber may have multiple reasons not to want to cross those streams in Europe.
“Drivers are doing essential work to keep our communities moving as we fight this virus, but with fewer trips happening they need more ways to earn. With the Work Hub, drivers can find these additional earning opportunities with other companies, working flexibly around driving on the Uber app if they choose to do so,” said Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional GM for Northern and Eastern Europe, in a statement.
The Work Hub initiative generally looks intended to encourage drivers to supplement (pandemic-hit) Uber earnings with other gig jobs. And — cynics might say — discourage an essential platform workforce from looking elsewhere for permanent work.
Uber will need its pool of drivers to be there still, owning a car and available for gig work, when normalcy returns if it’s ride-hailing business is to bounce back.
Aside from the US and the UK, other markets where Uber has already launched the Work Hub for drivers are Australia, Chile, Costa Rica, Canada, Mexico, Portugal and South Africa.
While the feature has been born in a crisis, Uber had already made moves into the broader temp work space — launching a shift finder app, called Uber Works, in Chicago last year. And the company told us it sees longer term opportunity for the Work Hub, as a vehicle to broaden the type of earning opportunities it can put in front of drivers, saying the initiative will continue to evolve.