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Uber headquarters in San Francisco. Photo: Liu Guanguan/China News Service via Getty Images

Part of the challenge of bringing employees back to work is making sure they are safe traveling to and from the job, and that they don't risk getting sick on their lunch break.

Why it matters: Companies can deep-clean their workplaces and rethink office layouts in preparation for their staff's return. But if employees are riding public transit to work, or streaming out to nearby restaurants at lunchtime, they could be putting everyone at risk.

What's happening: Uber for Business, the ride-sharing firm's enterprise arm, is launching new services today to help companies ensure their staffs can commute safely to work and are well-fed on the job.

  • Employee Group Rides will match employees from the same company to commute to work together. 
  • Business Charter will allow companies to reserve an exclusive fleet of cars, shuttles and buses for their employees and customers.
  • Uber users would request a ride on the app just as they do now, using their corporate, not personal, Uber account.

The demand for commuter services has doubled during the pandemic, Ronnie Gurion, global head of Uber for Business, tells Axios.

  • The New York Stock Exchange and Eataly, the Italian food marketplace, are among the companies already using Uber's custom-arranged commute services for their employees.

Lunchtime is also tricky, with many people surveyed saying they feel uncomfortable about going to a restaurant. Company cafeterias are likely no different.

  • "Do I want 500 people leaving my workplace to go to a bunch of restaurants at lunchtime?" said Gurion.
  • The pandemic has provided an opportunity for Uber for Business to dramatically increase its corporate meal solutions, including expanded Uber Eats offerings in many countries and company-paid Uber Eats vouchers for employees working from home.

Go deeper

Why one startup CEO lets employees cash out every year

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Pipe, a marketplace for revenue-based lending, has started to let its employees sell some of their equity each year through company-managed secondary sales on the AngelList platform.

Why it matters: Shareholder liquidity continues to be a challenge for tech startups as companies remain private longer than ever before.

1 hour ago - Science

COVID time warp

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic seems like a lifetime ago to some, and just yesterday to others. Scientists are beginning to unpack the way people processed the passage of time amidst the stress, uncertainty and isolation of the 1 year, 8 months and 21 days since WHO declared a pandemic.

Why it matters: The pandemic's global effects on how people experience time could provide new insights into the brain's ability to perceive and predict time — a fundamental feature of life.

Mitt Romney calls Ray Dalio's China investments a "sad moral lapse"

Sen. Mitt Romney walks to a Senate Republican caucus meeting at the Capitol on Oct. 7. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Thursday criticized billionaire Ray Dalio's investments in China, writing in a tweet that "his feigned ignorance of China's horrific abuses and rationalization of complicit investments there is a sad moral lapse."

Driving the news: Romney's comments come after Dalio's firm, Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, raised $1.3 billion in November for a new private fund in China, Bloomberg reports.