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‘If the office didn’t exist, would we invent it?’: Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky solidifies permanence of the remote-work era with new policies

May 8, 2022, 9:44 PM UTC

Airbnb employees can work from home forever, without losing pay, the lodging giant announced this week, eliciting a wave in traffic to its careers page nearly a million strong.

“The response internally was great, but even more impressive with the response externally, because our career page was visited 800,000 times after that announcement,” CEO Brian Chesky said Tuesday on an earnings call, according to a transcript. “And so I think that this just speaks to the durability of this use case, and I think that it’s going to continue.”

That number had risen to a million visits by Sunday, when Time published an interview with Chesky, headlined with his declaration that “the office as we know it is over.”

The office, Chesky said in the interview, is “like an anachronistic form…from a pre-digital age.”

“If the office didn’t exist, I like to ask, would we invent it?” he said. “And if we invented it, what would it be invented for?”

Remote work doesn’t make sense for those who work at hospitals, coffee shops, and the like, he said. “But I think that for somebody whose job is on a laptop, the question is, well, what is an office meant to do?”

In a late April press release citing an email from Chesky to employees, the CEO said that the company had “the most productive two-year period in our history,” despite the pandemic and the need to work from “our bedrooms, basements, and home offices.”

During the first quarter the company, for the first time, exceeded 100 million nights and experiences booked, and brought in revenue of $1.5 billion. Its net loss was $19 million for the quarter, a “significant improvement in the same periods in 2018 and 2021,” Chesky said on the Tuesday call.

Among other perks recently announced by Airbnb: The company will introduce single pay tiers in June, regardless of location. And beginning in September employees can work in more than 170 countries for up to 90 days a year in each location.

“Two decades ago, Silicon Valley startups popularized the idea of open floor plans and on-site perks, which were soon adopted by companies all around the world,” Chesky wrote. “Similarly, today’s startups have embraced remote work and flexibility, and I think this will become the predominant way that we all work 10 years from now. This is where the world is going.”

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