Airbnb employees can work almost anywhere they want, the company has announced, and they won’t see their pay snags if they move outside of metropolitan areas.
The new model will apply to personnel in the US, as well as the UK and other countries. To make it work, the company said it would focus in-person collaboration on about quarterly meetings and aim to bundle the work into two product releases per year, said its CEO and co-founder, Brian Chesky.
“We want to hire and retain the best people in the world (like you),” Chesky wrote in an email to staff. “If we were to limit our talent pool to a living-work area 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 group of communities, we will become a more diverse company.
“Now I understand the fear of not seeing people in the office – – how do you know if your employees are doing their job if you can’t see them? For me it’s simple: I trust you, and flexibility only works if you trust the people in your team.”
Employees will not be entirely free to move as they see fit. For tax reasons, they must have a fixed base in the country in which they were adopted. If they work abroad, they are not allowed to spend more than 90 days a year in any given country and are responsible for handling their own work permits. And they still have to factor in time zones and think about how to actually get to the meetings.
Crucially, though, the company will no longer pay people based on regional differences. “Starting in June, we will have separate wage levels by country for both salary and stock,” Chesky said. “If your salary is set at a lower location-based salary level, you will receive a raise in June.”
Other companies that have embraced remote work have been less generous. Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are all asking employees for a pay cut if they move to places with a significantly lower cost of living.
Airbnb is recovering from a difficult pandemic. The company, whose bookings plummeted as international travel fell, laid off a quarter of its workforce in May 2020, cut its investments in hotels and ultra-luxury apartments, and paused plans to shift to transportation and content creation.
It went public in December 2020, an uneasy period for a travel-focused company, but has maintained a market cap of about $100 billion in the 18 months since.