Airbnb employee shares what firm’s Work From Wherever program is like

On a typical workday final fall, you may discover Bay Space resident Bergen Kay at a café in Buenos Aires. As a part of Airbnb’s Work from Wherever program, she and her supervisor agreed she might do her job main the tech firm’s inner communications from Argentina on West Coast time.

The flexibleness allowed her to traverse the mountains, pattern the native espresso, and frequent the playgrounds of South America along with her husband and their one-year-old son for 5 months, all whereas displaying as much as work. 

It sounds like all employee’s dream—particularly now, as bosses demand millions of workers present as much as the workplace this fall whereas staff lengthy for (if not insist upon) flexibility all the identical. That’s unlikely to change soon and is price taking significantly; firms providing versatile schedules and places develop about twice as shortly as full-time in-person firms, a recent study found

Whereas some tech companies like Meta and Tesla have pushed for an workplace return, others like Atlassian, Yelp, and Spotify, have adopted a remote-first mannequin whereas maintaining a handful of headquarter places of work open throughout the globe. Airbnb counts itself amongst them, allowing staff to work from wherever—actually, wherever—with no change to their job title or compensation.

“The world is turning into extra versatile about the place individuals can work. We see this in our personal enterprise. We wouldn’t have recovered so shortly from the pandemic had it not been for hundreds of thousands of individuals working from Airbnbs,” CEO Brian Chesky wrote in a memo to staff. “If we restricted our expertise pool to a commuting radius round our places of work, we might be at a major drawback.” 

Airbnb—naturally—all the time supported employees’ travels, Kay tells Fortune, however as soon as the plan was carried out, “it opened up this entire world of potentialities.” That was all it took for them to hit the highway in South America for 5 months. “My dream in life was to take my household to stay overseas sooner or later,” Kay says. “I converse Spanish, and I actually needed to take my son to a tradition the place he might immerse himself within the language.”

And, so, they had been Argentina certain.

Versatile work permits for a ‘entire world of potentialities’

Kay and her household began their journey in Brazil, the place they’d already been invited to a marriage, earlier than transferring to Buenos Aires from mid-October to January. It was their dwelling base from which they investigated South America’s deepest corners, exploring Argentina’s glaciers and Mendoza wine nation, swimming alongside Uruguay’s seashores, and even squeezing in a climbing journey in Patagonia—all whereas Kay labored.

She was initially nervous about balancing household time along with her new work hours. However it helped that her husband took a break in between jobs, giving him flexibility to tackle some childcare duties. Her new 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. work hours additionally helped, permitting her to begin her day with an “intentional focus” on her household and finish across the time most Argentinians are sitting down for dinner. 

She additionally prioritized staying in areas with childcare, robust Wi-Fi, and a way of neighborhood that may make her household really feel comfy staying for weeks at a time. Save for some eco-dome lodging in Patagonia, they completely lodged in Airbnbs. “It may possibly really feel overwhelming; we had been touring with tons of luggage, automobile seats, journey cribs—there’s lots of stress that goes into that,” she recollects.

But, regardless of the juggling act, she feels the journey has made her even higher at her job. She says a few of her proudest accomplishments of the 12 months occurred when she was in Buenos Aires and that “it was simple to maintain up,” particularly contemplating her staff was already dispersed throughout the U.S. lengthy earlier than Airbnb made its Work from Wherever mannequin everlasting.  

It additionally helped inform her work operating Airbnb’s Ground Control, a staff that focuses on worker engagement and creating moments for in-person connection the place they make sense. Drawing on her expertise, she and her staff strategize methods of deepening connections throughout lengthy distances and likewise plan elective social gatherings individuals can go to in core cities. A wholesome stability of each—with no arduous necessities—is vital, she says.

“It was very clear to me what the foundations had been,” she says of working remotely overseas. “I all the time understood what was anticipated of me, and my supervisor and I communicated very candidly. I by no means needed to query what was wanted for me to carry out properly and contribute again to my staff.” That form of readability helped Kay make certain she might undertake such bold journey plans with out jeopardizing her profession.

The facility of alternative

Kay’s expertise exemplifies what remote workers have been saying for the previous three years—that they really feel extra productive working from outdoors the workplace—or at the very least after they have the selection (and their managers’ belief) to take action. 

Eliminating a commute brings numerous life-style advantages: No want to purchase enterprise garments, ride the sweaty subway, or stay in a particularly expensive metropolis. Moreover, ladies, on whom a lot of home tasks and caregiving tasks disproportionately fall, vastly prefer remote work to males. As Annie Dean, VP of Staff Wherever at Atlassian—a software program agency with a distant work mannequin practically equivalent to Airbnb’s—told Fortune, full flexibility “simply seems to be a more healthy, happier approach to stay.” That’s to say nothing of the hundreds of airline miles and resort factors you possibly can accrue working overseas, and—in case you time it proper—all of the cultural immersion and sightseeing you possibly can squeeze in with out having to take trip days. 

Notably, full flexibility doesn’t imply your coworkers are doomed to stay Zoom avatars endlessly. Airbnb nonetheless encourages its leaders and managers to convey their groups collectively after they can. “There’s a stability of the flexibleness of distant work and likewise offering the area for individuals who can join to take action,” Kays says, including that her staff deliberately comes collectively a couple of occasions all year long. “With the ability to do this in particular person is basically particular, helps us keep actually aligned, and brings extra power into our work.”   

Proper now, Kay and her household are “having fun with being dwelling for a bit” within the Bay Space, the place she goes into the workplace each few weeks for in-person connection. However her time in Argentina taught her that she will be able to make strides in any time zone, and she or he’s already planning her household’s subsequent journey away for subsequent summer time—ideally to Maine, as a result of “there’s nothing like Maine in the summertime.” 

She will be able to’t think about going again to an organization that requires in-office days. “It might be a tough promote,” she says. 

“Going into the workplace is one thing I nonetheless worth, as a result of it’s my alternative. Seeing individuals in particular person is unbelievable for bonding and collaboration,” she provides. “However having that choice to go on an journey, take my household to discover the world—to have the ability to do each these issues is basically one thing magical, and it gave me lots of power that I can put again into my work.”

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