- Under a new policy, Airbnb employees can “live and work anywhere,” according to an April 28 email the home-sharing company’s Co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky sent to staff.
- Employees also will be able to move anywhere in the country without a change in compensation, will have the flexibility to travel and work around the world and will meet up regularly — about four times per year — for team gatherings and social events, among other things.
- Chesky framed the policy not only as forward-looking but also as a unique way to meet a number of HR goals like recruiting top talent and diversifying that pool. “We want to hire and retain the best people in the world (like you),” he wrote. “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.”
It’s the big debate: Should employees continue to work remotely or be required to return to the office?
There’s a lot of disagreement. For example, of the 51% of the employees responding to a recent Workhuman survey who have been required to return full time, 71% said they agreed with the decision, HR Dive reported. But a third of the workers didn’t agree, with many saying they didn’t think their work required it. And a majority of all respondents were concerned about commuting and caregiving costs.
On the other hand, a Yoh survey released in March found that workers mainly wanted to stick to their current arrangements. Sixty-two percent of people working remotely said they wanted to remain that way, and 42% of in-person workers wanted to remain entirely in-person.
Generally, women and people of color have said they’re happier working from home. However, Generation Z workers felt their careers were stifled during the COVID-19 pandemic, largely because lockdowns kept them from the traditional, on-site work experience, according to the 2022 Business in the Northwest report from Washington State University’s Carson College of Business.
For the most part, managers support returning to the office, a Goodhire survey released in April found. Of the 3,500 American managers surveyed, 75% said they prefer some type of in-person work, although 73% said productivity and engagement had either improved or stayed the same with remote work. More than half (51%) said their companies would consider pay cuts for employees who refused to return to the office. Only 24% did not believe their company would require employees to return to the office full time this year.
But the Great Return hasn’t been easy. “Managers are realizing they cannot just flip the switch and demand that all employees return to the office for all of their shifts,” the Goodhire survey noted. Businesses are finding that they still have to make some remote working concessions, it said.
The long-lasting compromise for most companies will be hybrid work, Workhuman’s chief human resources officer previously told HR Dive. But the model, new for most workplaces, has hidden gaps and inefficiencies, according to one report.
HR pros navigating the transition might glean some tips from Airbnb’s approach. For example, Airbnb focused on issues fundamental to any business: Where’s the world headed, and how does one solve problems in light of it?
The world is becoming more flexible about where people can work, Chesky said — a trend that aligns directly with Airbnb’s business. “We wouldn’t have recovered so quickly from the pandemic had it not been for millions of people working from Airbnbs,” he noted.
The workforce issue, Chesky explained, is to “hire and retain the best people in the world,” and expanding its talent pool beyond small commuting areas puts it at an advantage, the CEO said. The company will address the need for and value of in-person connections through regular meet-ups. “Zoom is great for maintaining relationships, but it’s not the best way to deepen them,” Chesky said, and creative work is often “best done when you’re in the same room.”