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.

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A California appeals court Thursday said Uber and Lyft have to reclassify their drivers in the state as employees, affirming a lower court's ruling.

Why it matters: The companies are fighting a new state law, at the center of this lawsuit, that imposes stricter requirements in order to classify workers as independent contractors.

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It's one political minefield after another for tech companies this year as the industry faces a rash of concerns including antitrust pressure, rampant misinformation and a pre-election tightening of screws from the Trump administration.

Why it matters: For much of Silicon Valley, politics has, over the past decade, gone from a non-consideration to a nagging occasional distraction to an all-consuming force that threatens some companies' very existence. New products and features, meanwhile, have gone from being all the buzz to largely an afterthought.

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  2. Health: 13 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week — U.S. reports over 80,000 new cases for second consecutive day.
  3. World: Australian city Melbourne to exit one of world's longest lockdowns — In photos: Coronavirus restrictions grow across Europe
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  5. Nonprofit: Rockefeller Foundation commits $1 billion for COVID-19 recovery