Airbnb staff can choose to work remotely from anywhere with no pay cut, CEO Brian Chesky announces

Like many businesses, travel service Airbnb closed its offices and embraced remote working in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But in a letter to staff last week, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced that the “vast majority” of staff could continue to work remotely from home – or anywhere else – on a permanent basis.

“Today’s startups have embraced remote working and flexibility, and I think it will become the predominant way of working in 10 years. This is where the world is going,” Chesky wrote.

Staff who choose to work remotely will not take a pay cut and all employees will still be able to work from a desk if they choose, Chesky said.

Airbnb’s remote work policy also allows staff to work from overseas, although they are responsible for their own visa arrangements.

How will telecommuting actually work?

In his letter, Chesky summarized Airbnb’s flexible working policy in five main points:

  1. You can work from home or in the office
  2. You can move anywhere in the country where you work and your compensation will not change
  3. You have the opportunity to travel and work around the world
  4. We will meet regularly for gatherings
  5. We will continue to work in a highly coordinated manner

The ability to work remotely will apply to the “vast majority” of staff, Chesky said, saying most should expect to “meet in person quarterly for about a week at a time.”

Airbnb employees will also be able to walk away from company offices, Chesky said.

“That means you can move from San Francisco to Nashville, or from Paris to Lyon,” the company’s co-founder said. Moving abroad permanently will not yet be an option, but staff will be able to take extended ‘jobs’, living and working abroad for up to 90 days at a time.

While workers will need to obtain their own work permit if they wish to work remotely overseas, Chesky said Airbnb is “partnering with local governments” to facilitate the process.

All Airbnb employees accepting Chesky’s offer will join a growing trend: In 2021, 20% of Airbnb bookings were for stays of a month or more, he said.

Remote work, full pay

Airbnb’s plan to keep wages at current levels for staff who choose to work full-time remotely sets it apart from other tech companies that have grappled with how to put flexible working into practice.

Last year, Google, Microsoft, Meta and Twitter said they pay employees less if they choose to move further afield from corporate headquarters in Silicon Valley, saying pay levels were tied to the high cost of living in the cities where their offices are based.

In August, Reuters calculated that a San Francisco-based Google employee who chose to move about 300 miles east of Lake Tahoe could face a 25% pay cut.

“Our compensation packages have always been determined by location, and we always pay at the top of the local market based on where an employee works,” a Google spokesperson told the news agency.

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