San Francisco-based vacation rental company Airbnb has allowed employees to work from anywhere -- be it home or office or even outside the country. Airbnb’s decision comes in the backdrop of a huge change in the work culture in the past two years as the Covid-19 pandemic forced a majority of companies, small or big, to offer flexibility. Big new-age firms like Twitter, Facebook, Coinbase, Lyft, SAP, and many others have either gone fully or partially remote.
Among the perks announced by Airbnb, employees can live and work from over 170 countries for up to 90 days a year in each location. In an email to employees, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced the company's new approach, saying it's turning the page to the start of a new chapter. "I’m excited to share our design for where and how we’ll work together going forward," says Chesky.
He said the idea of offering flexibility started with a simple question — where is the world going? The answer is obvious — the world is becoming more flexible about where people can work, he wrote. "We see this in our own business. We wouldn’t have recovered so quickly from the pandemic had it not been for millions of people working from Airbnbs. During the second half of 2021, 20% of our nights booked were for stays of longer than a month, and half were for stays of longer than a week," the letter states.
Started in 2007, Airbnb has over 4 million hosts on its platform. The CEO, who said two years into the pandemic had taught everyone the importance of flexibility to work from anywhere, summed up Airbnb's new policy in five points.
1) Employees can work from home or the office
2) Employees can move anywhere in the country you work and your compensation won’t change
3) Employees have the flexibility to travel and work around the world
4) Employees will meet up regularly for gatherings
5) Employees will continue to work in a highly coordinated way
Explaning the new policy, the letter says the vast majority of employees will have the flexibility to work in their own ways. "A small number of roles will be required to be in the office or a specific location to perform their core job responsibilities, and those of you who have these roles have already been informed," says the letter.
On moving and working from anywhere in 170 countries, Chesky says there won't be any change in compensation despite the change in location. "This means you can move from San Francisco to Nashville, or from Paris to Lyon. You’ll have the flexibility to do what’s best for your life—whether that’s staying put, moving closer to family, or living in a place you’ve always dreamed of."
However, the company is staying away from offering permanent international moves because of its complexity. "So we won’t be able to support those this year," adds the letter.
Employees can work from anywhere in 170 countries for up to 90 days, but they'll need a permanent location for tax and payroll purposes. "Most companies don’t do this because of the mountain of complexities with taxes, payroll, and time zone availability, but I hope we can open-source a solution so other companies can offer this flexibility as well," the letter adds.
Chesky also said there will be regular team gatherings, off-sites, and social events. "Some roles, especially senior roles, will be expected to gather more often."
Despite this flexibility, Chesky says coordination between employees will be even stronger. To pull off this level of flexibility, ample structure and coordination are required, he adds. "Without it, things would become a free-for-all. The backbone of how we operate will continue to be our single company calendar with our multi-year roadmap," he adds.