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Airbnb CEO says the pandemic was the group’s ‘most productive’ two years ever, so now he’s making remote work permanent

April 29, 2022, 6:13 AM UTC

Airbnb, a company built on providing customers homes away from home, is now letting its employees work away from work—and is taking the remote work concept a little further than most other businesses.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced in a tweet on Wednesday that U.S. employees can now “live and work anywhere,” including working from the office if they like.

According to Chesky, U.S. staff at Airbnb are now entitled to relocate anywhere across the country without suffering a loss on compensation, and employees are even permitted to work overseas in any of 170 countries Airbnb has approved, for up to 90 days a year in each location.

“To pull this off, we’ll operate off of a multiyear road map with two major product releases a year, which will keep us working in a highly coordinated way,” Chesky said

During the pandemic, most Airbnb staff were working remotely anyway. In January, Chesky himself said he would spend the next year living and working in different Airbnb homes across the country, and the CEO says the past two years of remote work have been the company’s “most productive” time to date.

Managers often lament that remote work isn’t as efficient as having staff on hand and on-site, and maintaining productivity is a key issue bank bosses and other executives have flagged when angling to get staff back to work.

But previous research has shown that remote work, for some job types, may actually boost productivity. A 2014 study led by Stanford University and China’s largest online travel agent, Trip, found worker productivity increased 13% when staff was allowed to work from home four days a week.

Whether Airbnb has been more productive than ever during the pandemic, as Chesky says, is a little hard to quantify. Airbnb went public on the Nasdaq in December 2020, so there’s little public information about the company’s pre-pandemic performance. 

Airbnb’s stock is currently trading at $159, which is 233% of its debut price of $68. In its 2021 annual report, the company said full-year revenue was up 77% on the year before and above 2019 levels, hitting $6 billion in sales.

All that pandemic-era remote work and social distancing has been a windfall for Airbnb, as more travelers favored the relative isolation of an Airbnb over a hotel. Ahead of Airbnb’s quarterly report next week, Chesky has promised the company will deliver a record number of bookings, exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

But the new Airbnb work model isn’t all remote. Chesky says employees should expect to spend at least one week per quarter meeting their teams in person.

The CEO didn’t elaborate on whether Airbnb would help finance its remote workers making quarterly trips—which could be expensive if staff choose to take the opportunity of working from some far-flung beach.

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