Airbnb CEO says staff can ‘live and work anywhere’

Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb

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Home delivery platform Airbnb announced that it plans to let its employees live and work where they want, as other companies begin to look beyond the coronavirus pandemic and bring staff back to the office.

Brian Chesky, the company’s CEO and co-founder, revealed the move on Twitter on Thursday, saying staff compensation will not change if they decide to move.

“You have the flexibility to live and work in 170 countries for up to 90 days a year in each location, he said without specifying which countries they would not be able to work from or the reason for the 90-day ceiling.

In a separate email to staff, Chesky said employees still need a permanent address for tax and payroll purposes.

“Most companies do not do this because of the mountain of complexity with taxes, payroll and time zone availability, but I hope we can open source a solution so that other companies can also offer this flexibility,” he said in the email.

Airbnb employees will be personally responsible for getting “proper work permits,” Chesky said, adding that San Francisco headquarters work with local governments to make this easier.

“Today, more than 20 countries offer telework visas, and more are on the way,” he said.

It is possible that the move was designed to inspire other companies to adopt similar teleworking policies that would potentially benefit Airbnb. Airbnb did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.

The decision comes as other companies start trying to entice staff to return to the office, sometimes with perks like social events and free food. However, not everyone is convinced, and some workers are reportedly quitting to join companies with more flexible teleworking policies.

Chesky noted that most of his staff will meet in person quarterly for about a week at a time, adding that some will do this more often and that Zoom has its limitations.

“The most meaningful connections happen in person,” Chesky said. “Zoom is great for maintaining relationships, but it’s not the best way to deepen them. And some creative work is best done in the same space.”

He went on to say that Airbnb has just had its most productive two-year period in its history while working remotely.

“Two decades ago, Silicon Valley start-ups popularized open floor plans and on-site benefits,” he said. “Today’s startups have embraced flexibility and teleworking. I think this will be the prevailing way companies work in 10 years.”

Chesky suggested that companies would be at a “significant disadvantage” if they “limit their talent pool to a commuter radius around their offices,” as the best people live everywhere.

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