Airbnb Allows Employees to Work From Anywhere Permanently

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Airbnb will be allowing employees to work from home — or anywhere, for that matter — indefinitely, without any cut in pay, CEO Brian Chesky announced Thursday.

Reinstating work from offices would impact the company negatively, Chesky wrote in an internal email, because it would limit its talent pool to local hires, and it was clear that its current workforce has adapted over the course of the pandemic.

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“Two years ago, the world was turned upside down. Our offices closed and we found ourselves working from our bedrooms, basements and home offices,” Chesky wrote. “Despite everything, we had the most productive two-year period in our history.”

Employees won’t experience any change in pay if they choose to live in cities without Airbnb offices.. Employees will, however, need to remain in the country in which they were hired, unless previously arranged.

Still, the move does not mean that Airbnb plans to phase out the office altogether for its 6,000 employees worldwide. More than 3,000 employees work for Airbnb in the United States alone, according to CNN, and the company has 23 offices on four continents, according to Craft data.

A small portion of those employees will still be required to report to work as they did in pre-pandemic days, and all employees will have regular in-office meet-ups, since some in-person collaboration is necessary not only for creativity, but also for employees to establish a deeper bond with one another, Chesky wrote. 

“I’ve always believed that you design the culture you want, or it will be designed for you,” Chesky concluded. “I’m excited about this new design and giving you the flexibility to live and work anywhere.”

For Airbnb, work from anywhere is also crucial to its business model, as its platform has seen an increase in long-term stays from digital nomads over the course of the pandemic. Encouraging a life away from the office, with frequent in-person gatherings in hub cities, could boost its business. 

That said, it’s hardly the only company to offer this perk. 

Most New York City companies originally planned to bring employees back to the office by January of 2022, prior to the curveball that was the omicron variant. Now, many employers are opting for a concrete plan for a return to office in the second quarter of this year.

Some of the industries leading the charge in requiring in-office attendance five days a week are investment banks in New York, while tech companies like Slack, Meta and now Airbnb are willing to give their employees space to roam,Green Street’s Cedrik Lachance recently told Commercial Observer.

Companies continue leasing office space in Manhattan, indicating that physical work environments are not completely dead. 

The Flatiron District and NoMad saw office availability rates drop 1.4 percent in the first quarter of 2021, for example. But U.S. office building sales hit $18.9 billion in the first quarter of this year as well, with the national average price at $280 per square foot, CO reported earlier this week. This, according to ​​Commercial Edge, which cited Yardi Matrix data, was still below the $22 billion in investment sales in the same period in 2021, however.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.