Airbnb announced on Thursday that the “vast majority” of its employees will be allowed to work remotely and will not have to take a pay cut if they travel far from towns surrounding the company’s offices. Airbnb is implementing the change after experiencing “the most productive two years” in its history while working remotely, according to a Twitter feed of Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of the company. It should be noted, however, that it also laid off a quarter of its workforce during this period.
Airbnb is also making other changes to the remote work policy. According to its announcement, employees will also be able to “live and work in more than 170 countries for up to 90 days a year in each location,” as long as they maintain a permanent address on file. The company will also periodically hold “team meetings, offsite and social events” for its employees to meet in person throughout the year.
Airbnb’s new model is rare, but not unprecedented. Zillow and Reddit promised that most employees would not have to take pay cuts after leaving major metropolitan areas in 2021 and 2020, respectively. Companies like Twitter, Square, and Dropbox have also embraced remote working. But many companies work differently – employees at Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta and Microsoft will have to take a pay cut if they want to move to an area with a lower cost of living , according to reports like this. by the BBC (although some of these companies are more supportive of remote working than others).
While Airbnb’s new remote work policies certainly sound good, it’s hard to portray the company as a shining example of how to treat employees. A few months into the pandemic, it laid off 1,900 of its workers, about a quarter of its workforce at the time. According to a report by The New York Times, the values of belonging, love and being like family that the company touted disappeared as it watched the barrel of dramatically reduced travel rates. It almost feels like its new policies are a balm for its remaining workers — even if it comes years after the layoffs and years after other companies adopted similar policies.
Airbnb is not alone in this regard either; Zillow also laid off about a quarter of its workforce during the pandemic, although that was because it bought too many homes, not because its business is based on something people could no longer do.
It also looks like Airbnb is putting a pretty serious structure in place in other areas, though its employees will be relatively free to choose where to work. Notes Chesky that the company “will operate on a multi-year roadmap with two major product releases per year” to make sure everyone stays organized.
Despite the bumpy road to get there, it looks like Airbnb has landed on a set of policies that might be quite attractive to current and potential employees. (They also happen to work well with the company’s rental service’s stay-or-work-anywhere vibe.) Despite its relatively small size, it might make other larger companies reconsider. their own remote working policies – if it’s actually a success, and its employees agree with its ideas about the future of work.