Article: The office, as we know it, is over: Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky

Culture

The office, as we know it, is over: Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky

Is the traditional office dead? Brian Chesky is urging companies to embrace flexible work and break free from the shackles of outdated cubicles.
The office, as we know it, is over: Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky

It comes as no surprise that the CEO and co-founder of a company like Airbnb, a platform dedicated to providing accommodations to individuals and tourists, supports flexible work. After all, hybrid or remote work models benefit a business that relies on people's mobility.

But beyond the obvious advantages, Brian Chesky reflects on the benefits for both workers and companies in a model that saves time and allows access to global talent. In other words, breaking away from the constraints of focusing work in one specific location.

"Every CEO has to make this calculation," he said. "Is it more productive to have people physically together in one office and limit your hiring to individuals within a 30- or 60-mile commuting radius? Or should you allow your team to hire people from anywhere?" Chesky asked in a recent interview.

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His support for flexible work is also based on productivity. The Airbnb CEO argues that companies that do not embrace flexible work are at a disadvantage and that the traditional office setup is no longer viable.

"Every CEO has to make this calculation," he said. "Is it more productive to have people physically together in an office and limit your hiring to individuals within a 30- or 60-mile commuting radius? Or should you allow your team to hire people from anywhere?" Chesky wonders.

The CEO does not shy away from criticizing corporate executives who demand in-person work but reserve flexibility for themselves.

"I guarantee you a lot of these CEOs who are calling for people to return to the office in New York will spend the summer in the Hamptons or travel to Europe in August," Chesky said in a recent interview on the "Decoder" podcast.

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"A sea of desks is probably not the most efficient setup, and many functions can be more efficient by allowing flexibility and accessing a global talent pool," he explained.

Monthly stays account for one-fifth of Airbnb's business and represent one of its fastest-growing segments. Professionals in higher positions tend to have more flexibility in terms of when and where they work. In March 2023, 43% of managers worked in a hybrid arrangement, compared to 18% of non-managers, according to an Axios analysis of WFH Research data.

Meanwhile, 45% of managers are expected to work full-time onsite, compared to 62% of non-managers.

In April 2022, Chesky announced that Airbnb staff could "live and work anywhere," citing the "most productive two-year period in our company's history" while working remotely. He also assured employees that they would not face a pay cut for relocating. This announcement led to over 800,000 people visiting the company's jobs page.

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Topics: Culture, Employee Engagement

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