Room rental company Airbnb announced on Thursday that it would allow its employees to work from anywhere and that compensation would remain stable or increase within countries.
At other tech companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter, among others, pay has been cut for employees who choose to work remotely.
Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky outlined the company’s new policy in an email to staff that the company posted on its website.
Cheskey described the revised labor regime as an effort to attract and retain talent.
“We want to hire and retain the best people in the world (like you),” Cheskey said in the message to Airbnb staff. “If we limited our talent pool to a commuting radius around our offices, we would be at a huge disadvantage. The best talent lives everywhere, not concentrated in one area. And by recruiting from a diverse set of communities, we will become a more company diversified.”
In June, Airbnb will have unique pay tiers per country for salaries and stock, Cheskey said. Those whose salary has been set at a lower location-based pay tier will see a corresponding salary increase.
Additionally, starting in September, employees will be able to live and work in more than 170 countries for up to 90 days a year at each location. Cheskey said employees will have to take it upon themselves to obtain work authorization, although Airbnb intends to lobby governments to offer remote work visas – currently available in more than 20 country.
“Most companies don’t because of the mountain of complexities with tax, payroll and time zone availability, but hopefully we can open up a solution so other companies can offer as well. this flexibility,” he said.
Airbnb will continue to support office work and will require employees in certain positions to work from a specific desk or location due to the nature of their roles – company servers feel lonely, otherwise.
Some companies penalized workers who abandoned their headquarters by cutting their pay. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, for example, said those who choose to live where the cost of living and working are lower should expect to be paid accordingly.
Microsoft’s advice on working remotely also suggests that pay and benefits can be adjusted based on location. A Reuters report says Google employees faced pay cuts of up to 25% for leaving the San Francisco Bay Area to work remotely from a more affordable location. VMware workers transferred from Palo Alto, California to Denver, Colorado reportedly saw their salaries cut by 18%.
Airbnb worker compensation seems to be going in the opposite direction. An Airbnb spokesperson confirmed that the company’s new country-based compensation structure will not reduce salaries and may increase them. “Compensation will be set by the existing Tier 1 compensation for that country,” the company’s spokesperson told The Register in an email. “Nobody’s salary will go down – salary will only go up at level 1.”
Productivity can also increase. An article published last year by the National Bureau of Economic Research, “Why Working from Home Will Stick,” by Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom and Steven J. Davis, examined the impact of working from home on productivity. It found that with the employer’s re-optimization of work arrangements to account for things like staggered hours and reduced commuting time, labor productivity increased by 4.6% compared to work before the pandemic.
Citing the past popularization of open floor plans in Silicon Valley — touted by commercial real estate companies as a way to reduce square footage and occupancy costs — Cheskey said forward-looking startups have shown that the Remote work and flexible working hours are possible.
“That’s where the world is going,” he said. ®