In a recent interview, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky reiterated his belief that normal full office employment is obsolete, claiming that onsite work is “from a pre-digital age” and no longer makes sense for many career pathways. Chesky’s comments come just days after Airbnb told its present employees that they may work remotely indefinitely, in a bid to attract and retain talent in a historically tight labor market that has prompted many companies to increase their incentives.
Chesky said in the interview with Time magazine, “I think that the office as we know it is over. It’s kind of like an anachronistic form. If the office didn’t exist, I like to ask, would we invent it? And if we invented it, what would it be invented for?” He added that “Obviously, people are going to still go to hospitals and work, people are going to still go to coffee shops and work — those spaces make complete sense. But I think that for somebody whose job is on a laptop, the question is, well, what is an office meant to do?”
Chesky also targeted businesses that had used hybrid schedules as part of their “return to office” strategies, explaining that some businesses “don’t realize this two, three days a week thing is not super sustainable. I’m not trying to paint a rosy picture of the future; there’s going to be a lot to work out. All I’m saying is, you can’t fight the future, we can’t try to hold on to 2019 any more than 1950. We have to move forward.”
Airbnb stated last month that its staff will be able to live and work anywhere in the country without having to take salary reductions based on their location. The company’s strategy also involves frequent team gatherings and in-person meetings, as well as allowing employees to live overseas for part of the year.
With unemployment hovering around 4% nationally, businesses are competing fiercely to attract and keep top talent through better pay and other benefits. In March, a record 4.54 million American workers resigned from their employment, a movement dubbed “the Great Resignation.”