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Airbnb will let staff work from anywhere without a pay cut

Will they WF-other people's-H?

Room rental biz Airbnb on Thursday said it will allow its employees to work from anywhere and compensation will remain flat or increase within countries.

At other tech firms like Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter, among others, pay has been cut for employees electing to work remotely.

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky outlined the new corporate policy in an email to staff that the biz published on its website.

Cheskey described the revised work regime as an effort to attract and retain talent.

"We want to hire and retain the best people in the world (like you)," said Cheskey in the message to Airbnb personnel. "If we limited our talent pool to a commuting radius around our offices, we would be at a significant disadvantage. The best people live everywhere, not concentrated in one area. And by recruiting from a diverse set of communities, we will become a more diverse company."

Come June, Airbnb will have single pay tiers by country for both salary and equity awards, said Cheskey. Those whose pay was set to a lower location-based pay tier will see a salary boost as a result.

What's more, come September, employees will be able to live and work in over 170 countries for up to 90 days per year in each location. Cheskey said employees will have to take it upon themselves to obtain work authorization, though Airbnb intends to lobby governments to offer remote work visas – available in more than 20 countries presently.

"Most companies don’t do this because of the mountain of complexities with taxes, payroll, and time zone availability, but I hope we can open-source a solution so other companies can offer this flexibility as well," he said.

Airbnb will continue to support office work and will require employees in some roles to work from an office or a specific location due to the nature of their roles – company servers get lonely, otherwise.

Some companies have penalized workers who have abandoned corporate offices by reducing their pay. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, for example, has said those who choose to live where the cost of living and of labor is lower should expect to be paid accordingly.

Microsoft's guidance on remote work also suggests compensation and benefits may be adjusted by location. A Reuters report indicates that Google employees have faced pay cuts of up to 25 percent for moving from the San Francisco Bay Area to work remotely from a more affordable location. VMware workers relocating from Palo Alto, California, to Denver, Colorado, reportedly saw pay cuts of 18 percent.

Compensation for Airbnb workers appears to be headed in the opposite direction. A spokesperson for Airbnb confirmed that the company's new country-based pay structure will not reduce salaries and may raise them. "Compensation will be set by existing Tier 1 compensation for that country," the company spokesperson told The Register in an email. "No one's pay will go down – pay will only increase to Tier 1."

Productivity may rise too. A paper released last year through the National Bureau of Economic Research, "Why Working from Home Will Stick," by Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom, and Steven J. Davis, looked at the productivity impact of working from home. It found that with employer re-optimization of working arrangements to account for things like shifted schedules and reduced commute time, labor productivity increased 4.6 percent compared to pre-pandemic work.

Citing Silicon Valley's past popularization of open floor plans – touted by commercial real estate firms as a way to reduce square footage and occupancy costs – Cheskey said forward-looking startups have shown remote work and flexible work schedules are possible.

"This is where the world is going," he said. ®

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