The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll on the ride-hailing services. The ride-hailing giant has reported losses over ₹16 million, and they have laid off over 1,000 employees to compensate for it. They have further added that talks are going within the administration to lay off 20% of its workers. Ola has started to expand its operations globally and eye for an IPO in the next few years. The company currently owns about 100,000 vehicles. 

Ola has recently announced a partnership with India’s top tier consumer good companies, Marico. This move comes after the effect of pandemic and aims to improve the cleanliness of their cabs. Under this partnership, Ola will be providing “surface” a range of disinfectant sprays to all its drivers. It will also be utilized to disinfect the car’s inner surfaces where passengers often come in contact, such as the seat, inner panel, handles, etc. Ola promotes this initiative under the name of ‘Ride safe India’ and aims to set the bar high for hygiene. With this safety initiative, Ola ensures a virus-free ride in its motorcycles, auto-rickshaws, and cars for its passengers. It adds assurance and confidence for both drivers and passengers. 

The disinfectant contains about 77% of alcohol and is packed in spray format bottles. Apart from these measures, every vehicle in Ola will go through fumigation and deep-cleaning every 48 hours. To make this initiative possible, the company has started 500+ safety zones across India. These initiatives are taken to become the leading provider of safety for passengers in the country’s ride-hailing segment. The accretion of a new range of disinfectants from the market is the ride-hailing giant’s ultimate effort to bring drivers and passengers together by improving their hygiene standards and enhancing their cleanliness protocols. For any app like Ola, the top priority is to offer safe mobility solutions while venturing out. 

The initial business plans laid out by the company did not take off as it faced huge losses during the lockdown period, because of the fact that a significant portion of the company’s revenue depended on its ride-hailing trips. The total number of bookings dropped by 75% compared to last year. Due to its stringent cost cutting measures and an efficient balance sheet, Ola was able to adjust their losses to some extent after paying interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. The ability of the business to get back on its track differs from the geographical location. Various countries took different measures to contain the spread of the virus, and some had succeeded in it. But experts have warned about a second wave of the coronavirus in the next few months. So it is safe to say that complete normalcy will return only when a vaccine is released. 

Some places had also reported a spike in the number of bookings at the pre-COVID period (before the lockdown was announced) as people started to settle in a safe place for the worst to come. Employees are facing a hard time as the company continues to lay off some of them to sustain in the market, especially during this pandemic. Other on-demand service apps have reported a massive surge in their user engagement as there lies a higher demand for people struck at homes. These providers ensure a steady supply of essential goods to provide a  consistent service for their customers.  

The culture of work from home is growing, and people are getting used to it. On the other hand, some people still need to come to their office due to their work nature. To ensure the safety of its employees, the company provides free corporate travel services. Extra precautions have been taken by the management to ensure the safety of the employees. Ola has also announced a special fund for its drivers in Australia. They have named it ‘COVID-19 fund,’ and it will benefit every driver. They can claim financial assistance for upto 14 days in a medical facility. Apart from these, if a driver is suspected to be asymptomatic or showing mild signs of COVID-19, and in any case, if he/she is asked to be in self-quarantine by a medical professional, they will get their average daily earnings for the time being without any questions asked (after submitting proof in any form issued by a medical professional).

In a nutshell:

Ola is closely working with the respective country’s government to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers. The company has also partnered with a telemedicine app named to offer free medical help for the drivers and their family members in case of emergency. Separately, Ola has set up a driver care and safety response team for the time being. Drivers working in this situation can call them for any kind of emergency or assistance.