Charter buses, payday advances, hotlines: how tech companies are helping their workers in Ukraine
Some tech companies have offered financial support to workers, set up helplines and arranged travel or accommodation for those fleeing the escalating conflict, according to interviews and company statements. A global technology company, Wix, planned for weeks for worst-case scenarios for its 900 employees in the country.
“A small number wanted to leave by their own means to other places, the others preferred to stay in Ukraine for various reasons,” Zohar said. “These people are very patriotic and they didn’t want to leave their home country…I don’t think anyone thought it was going to be a full-fledged invasion so quickly.”
In recent days, CNN Business has reached out to more than a dozen major tech companies with operations in the country. Uber, which suspended car service in Ukraine in response to the war, said it was offering logistical and financial support to affected employees and their immediate family members if they voluntarily chose to relocate. Lyft said it provides financial support for “emergency preparedness and for those who wish to temporarily relocate, increased time off and additional mental health resources.”
Ubisoft, a video game company, said it had recommended employees the week before the invasion to take refuge in a place they considered safe and that it offered accommodation in neighboring countries as an option for employees. and to their families. It said it pays salaries in advance in case banking systems are disrupted, and offers additional funds to help cover costs, such as those related to travel and relocation.
“We have set up hotlines (…) and have set up an emergency communication system in the event of infrastructure instability,” the company said in a statement.
For Wix, the Russian escalation meant acting on another part of the plan she started discussing about a month ago: moving as many employees and their families as possible to the western part of Ukraine, which which she thinks would be safer. In preparation, Wix pre-hired some bus companies and some employees took the chartered buses from Kyiv or Dnipro, while others drove alone. At the border, they were greeted by Wix staff members.
“We had more than 30 volunteers from our offices in Lithuania who took their cars and drove to the Polish borders … to help them [get] a hot meal, groceries, blankets, diapers, anything they might need. Set them up for a night’s sleep somewhere near the border,” Zohar said.
Just before speaking to CNN on Monday morning, Zohar said he received confirmation that another chartered bus, carrying about 40 people, had crossed the border into Poland. “There are still quite a few waiting in the border area because there are very, very, very long lines there,” he said. “Unfortunately, there is a group stuck in the most dangerous areas of Ukraine, which we really, really hope we can get out of at some point.”
As the situation evolves, so do Wix’s plans. For example, the company originally planned to keep its employees in Turkey for two weeks, but two weeks came and went this weekend. “Obviously we extended it because they can’t go back,” Zohar said.