Airbnb staff will be able to work from almost anywhere they want, the company has announced, and they won’t see their pay docked if they move outside metropolitan areas.
The new model will apply to staff in the US, but also those in the UK and other countries. To make it work, the company said it would focus in-person collaboration on roughly quarterly get-togethers and aim to bundle work together into two product releases a year, its chief executive and co-founder, Brian Chesky, said.
“We want to hire and retain the best people in the world (like you),” Chesky wrote in an email to staff. “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.
“Now, I understand the anxiety of not seeing people in an office– – how do you know if your employees are doing their jobs when you can’t see them? For me, it’s simple: I trust you, and flexibility only works when you trust the people on your team.”
Employees will not be entirely free to move as they see fit. For tax reasons, they will need to have a permanent base in the country they’re hired in. If they work overseas, they can spend no more than 90 days a year in any given country, and are responsible for handling their own work authorization. And they do still need to consider time zones, and think about how to actually get to the gatherings.
Crucially, however, the company will no longer pay people based on regional differences. “Starting in June, we’ll have single pay tiers by country for both salary and equity,” Chesky said. “If your pay was set using a lower location-based pay tier, you’ll receive an increase in June.”
Other companies that have embraced remote work have been less generous. Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft all ask employees to take a pay cut if they move somewhere with a substantially lower cost of living.
Airbnb is recovering from a difficult pandemic. The company, whose bookings plummeted as international travel fell away, laid off a quarter of its headcount in May 2020, scaling back its investments in hotels and ultra-luxury apartments and pausing plans to move into transportation and content creation.
It went public in December 2020, an uncomfortable period for a travel-focused company, but has maintained a market cap of around $100bn in the 18 months since.