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Airbnb to staff: Work from wherever you want in the country and we'll pay you the same

Some staff might even get a pay rise after Airbnb implements its country-level pay tiers.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer on

Airbnb chief Brian Chesky has told employees they can work from home indefinitely and move anywhere within their country without having their pay adjusted. 

The move, announced by Chesky in a staff memo this week, avoids the prickly pay issue created by some companies that will allow staff to work remotely permanently but will also adjust their pay downwards if they move to a lower-cost region.    

Airbnb this week clarified that all of its roughly 6,000 employees worldwide can move anywhere within a country for any reason without having their salary impacted. They'll have to talk to their managers about work expectations, timezones and availability for Zoom meetings, but any reason for moving is valid.

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"This means you can move from San Francisco to Nashville, or from Paris to Lyon. You'll have the flexibility to do what's best for your life – whether that's staying put, moving closer to family, or living in a place you've always dreamed of," wrote Chesky.

"If you move, your compensation won't change," he added.   

Starting in June, Airbnb will have "single pay tiers" determined by country for both salary and equity in the firm. 

That could be good news for employees if their pay was previously set using a lower location-based pay tier. These employees will receive an increase in June, he said, though he did not say what impact it would have on staff whose salary was set at a higher location-based tier.

Airbnb will not support permanent international moves this year because they are much more complex, said Chesky. 

Chesky said the move was designed to attract and retain the best talent: "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."

This talent acquisition and retention strategy may pay off for Airbnb, particularly in markets experiencing the so-called "great resignation", which is more pronounced in the US in tech but less common in Europe

Chesky said the move was supported by the company's record earnings after it "rebuilt the company from the ground up" due to the pandemic, and completed an IPO in December 2020, which was all done with staff working remotely. 

"It's clear that flexibility works for Airbnb," he writes. 

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He also acknowledged that Zoom was great for maintaining relationships between staff but not the best way to deepen them. To address this, Airbnb will have regular team gatherings and social events, but due to the pandemic, there will be limited off-site meetings in 2022. 

In 2023, there will be more face-to-face meetings, roughly once a quarter for a week at a time, he said.

Staff will also be able to move anywhere in the world for up to 90 days a year, though they will need a permanent address for tax and payroll. Airbnb plans to open source its solution, so other companies can emulate it and will handle all work authorizations for staff moving temporarily to a different country. Today, over 20 countries offer remote-work visas, according to Chesky. 

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