One year after Airbnb introduced its “Live And Work Anywhere” policy, its CFO says the company has seen many positive changes—and better performance.
- Since introducing its fully remote work policy, Airbnb says it has increased revenue, seen less turnover, and hired more diverse employees.
- More than 20% of the company’s new hires come from underrepresented groups, and more than 52% of global hires are women, Fortune reports.
- This year, the company also made the Fortune 500 list for the first time, coming in at number 450.
- The vacation rental property has survived the pandemic with relative ease but still has challenges ahead as businesses prepare for a potential recession.
Why it’s news
While other tech companies try to push their employees back to work, Airbnb has embraced the remote-work life and even attributes some of the company’s success to the new policy.
Airbnb’s “Live And Work Anywhere” policy allows employees to work fully remotely for up to 90 days. Employees can even move to another country during that time period or move across the U.S. without changing their current pay rate. The policy includes a $500 allowance to improve employees’ work-from-home abilities and $1,000 toward education for themselves or family members.
Though the company has leaned into the benefits of remote work, CFO Dave Stephenson says the company still values in-person work above the virtual office.
“I do want to be clear: We are not remote-first. We think working in person is incredibly important. Some of the best work is done collaboratively together in person. We just think that you should be intentional about when you gather for work,” Stephenson says in an interview with Fortune.
Since starting the program, Airbnb has made a few changes to the initial program but has also seen massive benefits, such as reducing the company’s overall real estate footprint.
“We have half as much real estate as before COVID,” Stephenson says, “but now we’re thinking about how to best utilize that space. We’re learning that we don’t need a sea of desks. We don’t need people to come into the office just to do email. Instead, we need collaborative workspaces.”
One of the most obvious downsides of remote work is difficulty observing which employees deserve promotions or raises. This is a problem Stephenson says the company is still trying to solve. The CFO did not yet have any insight on how that plan is progressing, but he says it is something the company is closely monitoring.
While other tech companies struggle to convince their employees to return, Stephenson says the remote system works better for his teams.
“Prior to COVID, we were a divisional structure. So we had general managers over groups. We had a homes division, a luxe division, a plus division, a transportation division, a magazine division, and experiences. In COVID, we moved from that divisional structure to a functional one,” he explains.
During COVID, Stephenson says the company reduced its headcount by 25%. Airbnb was able to streamline the existing workflow and increase its efficiency and effectiveness.
“I’d rather people know that they will be in the office for five days next week working on a specific program and getting it done than three random days a week when the benefit of that random interaction is meager,” Stephenson said, referencing a common hybrid model that encourages employees to come into the office three days a week. “That intentionality and design mentality is really successful here at Airbnb, and not every company needs or has that.”