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“Live and Work, Anywhere”: How Airbnb’s Remote Work Policy is Redefining the Workplace

Airbnb work from anywhere
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We want to hire and retain the best people in the world. If we limited our talent pool to a commuting radius around our offices, we would be at a significant disadvantage. The best people live everywhere, not concentrated in one area. And by recruiting from a diverse set of communities, we will become a more diverse company.   

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky 

Back on April 28, 2022, Airbnb’s co-founder and CEO sent an email to all the employees, announcing a new chapter: living and working anywhere. The news came after 2 years of remote working inside Airbnb. These 2 years proved to be the most productive period in the company’s history.   

In this article we’re going to go deeper into Airbnb’s work policy and look at the opportunities as well as challenges posed by the work from anywhere model. 

Airbnb: the Five Pillars of Working from Anywhere  

When designing the working model, listening was key. By actively listening to staff needs about remote and office work, and acting towards the learnings, they’ve seen a significant drop in employee turnover and a record high in employee recommendation rates. 

The Airbnb team behind Live and Work Anywhere understood that randomly getting people 3 days a week won’t work. For example, there are accounting teams that need to get together at the end of the month, for example. Different teams, different rhythms. 

Also, not everyone wants to work from home. Imagine living in a tiny flat in London. You probably don’t have a cozy place to call your office. 

1. Employees can work from home or the office 

Airbnb empowers employees to choose their work environment, maximizing personal productivity. While most roles offer this flexibility, some need on-site presence for core duties. 

2. Employees can move anywhere in the country they work in, and their compensation won’t change 

Employees can relocate within their country without affecting compensation. Starting in June, a single pay structure by country ensures equal pay regardless of location. 

3. Employees have the flexibility to travel and work around the world 

Starting September 2022, Airbnb facilitated remote work in over 170 countries for up to 90 days per location annually. While a permanent address is still needed, the company actively partners with governments to simplify the process, but at the end of the day the employees will be responsible for getting proper work authorization. 

4. Employees will meet up regularly for team gatherings, off-sites, and social events 

Recognizing the importance of in-person interaction, Airbnb fosters connection through regular team gatherings, off-sites, and social events. Some roles, especially senior roles, will be expected to meet face-to-face more often. 

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To ensure the success of large in-person gatherings, Airbnb has deployed a dedicated team called “Ground Control”. This team focuses on strategically bringing the right people together at the right time.  

The idea is that intentional meetings can be highly productive, allowing for clear goals, agendas, and focused discussions. This can be more efficient than relying on chance encounters. 

“I think the idea of randomly bumping together in the halls is of] low value, relative to intentionally getting people together for a specific kind of work task” said the Airbnb CFO and head of employee experience Dave Stephenson said in an HR Brew interview. 

5. Employees will continue to work in a highly coordinated way 

To be able to foster flexibility, the focus will be on structure and coordination. The multi-year roadmap will be at the center of all activities. Annually, there are two major releases (in May and November). In-person sessions will be planned around those dates to have everyone aligned. 

Before the pandemic, 95% of Airbnb employees used to live near a company office. Now, almost 25% of employees are more than 50 miles from an office. 

I think it just means you get far more productivity because no one is forced to work in an environment that they do not want to be in. 

Susan Wheeldon, Airbnb’s Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand 

To help navigate the intricacies of working from anywhere, Airbnb has set up a dedicated “Live and Work Anywhere” team. The team provides expert support on work visas, taxes, and benefits. 

The Benefits Airbnb is Enjoying Since Implementing “Live and Work Anywhere” 

Since the introduction of the Airbnb program, about 20% of employees have relocated domestically or worked abroad. 

Positive employee sentiment is also on the rise.  

Airbnb reports a significant drop in employee turnover, reaching near-record lows. Additionally, the “Live and Work Anywhere” policy is proving instrumental in achieving their diversity and inclusion goals, attracting more women and underrepresented minorities to the company. 

Conclusion 

Airbnb’s new remote work policy isn’t just innovative, it’s a stroke of genius that aligns perfectly with their core values and business model. Their mission, “to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere,” resonates deeply with the flexibility and freedom of remote work.  

Before the pandemic, travel and exploration were central to Airbnb’s identity. Now, they’re using their expertise to cater to a new kind of traveler – the remote worker seeking a change of scenery. It seems that at the end of 2021, 20% of nights booked were for stays longer than a month, and half were stays longer than a week.   

As technology continues to evolve, geographically dispersed workforces will become increasingly common. Companies that embrace flexibility and prioritize employee well-being will be best positioned to attract and keep top talent in this competitive landscape. 

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While Airbnb’s “Live and Work Anywhere” policy offers a plethora of benefits, it’s not without its challenges. Here are some key considerations: 

Social isolation: Remote work can lead to feelings of isolation and a disconnect from colleagues. Fostering a strong company culture through regular team building and social events is crucial. 

Effective communication: Clear communication strategies are essential to support a cohesive team environment despite physical separation. 

Time zones: Managing teams across different time zones requires careful scheduling and flexibility. 

Performance management: Evaluating employee performance in a remote setting demands clear and objective metrics. 

Work visas: Airbnb facilitates remote work in over 170 countries, but obtaining proper work visas is still an employee responsibility. The company can help navigate the process but cannot guarantee authorization. 

Taxes: Working remotely across borders can have complex tax implications. It’s essential for employees to understand their tax obligations in each location. 

Want to read more inspiring stories on how to make remote and hybrid working, work? Check out the Dropbox story, and the Atlassian story

Now, if you want to find out more about how to manage hybrid workplaces, we’ve created a very thorough guide for you. So, make sure to check Mastering Hybrid Work out!     

Picture of Alina Belascu
Alina Belascu
Alina is a digital marketer with a passion for web design. When she’s not strategizing she’s doing photography, listening to podcasts on history and psychology, and playing with her 2 dogs and cat.