Since the pandemic, we’ve seen some of the most drastic changes in workplace models and recruitment in years. The rise in remote work, both in-country and overseas, along with hybrid work models such as full work from home, mixed work from home and office, as well as the use of satellite offices such as co-working facilities (e.g. WeWork’s flexible workspaces scattered throughout Hong Kong and the globe), have become the norm rather than the exception.
According to Gartner, an industry research firm, the future of work sees 50% of employees worldwide continuing to work remotely in a post-pandemic world. Companies that force employees to return to the office are at risk of losing their best talent. Working remotely has removed stringent geographical barriers that once prevented employees from getting jobs around the world, and companies will need to keep up with the current trends to retain and attract top talent.
Airbnb sets a new hybrid work trend
In April 2022, the global online property marketplace operator, Airbnb, announced to its 6,000 strong workforces that they would have the option to permanently work remotely, joining a growing number of companies that have done away with return-to-office plans, including Zillow and PwC. Airbnb also told its U.S. employees that they could move anywhere in the country without a reduction in their compensation.
“The world has become more flexible”, and “We also had the most productive two-year period in our company’s history — all while working remotely”, said Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky.
Chesky outlined the new policy, summing it up in five points:
- Employees can work from home or the office
- Staff can move anywhere in the country you work in and your compensation won’t change
- Employees have the flexibility to travel and work around the world
- Teams will meet up regularly for in-person gatherings (every quarter)
- Teams will continue to work in a highly coordinated way (driven by a multi-year roadmap with two products released per year, designed to keep teams on track)
What sets Airbnb’s policies apart from other companies is its decision to standardise pay regardless of location. Employees at Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft will have to take a pay cut if they want to move to an area with a lower cost of living. But with more and more countries trialing “digital nomad” visas aimed at remote work, it is becoming easier to move and work abroad and work anywhere.
Closer to home, the Hong Kong-based New World Group recently announced a three-month trial of a 4.5 work week which includes the option of one remote work-from-home day or another location. The group has introduced “Summer Fridays” where employees can work a half day on Fridays without any deductions from their salary. The goal of the pilot is to offer suitable hybrid work arrangements that offer staff better work-life balance and improve employee wellness.
Following a similar path, the Hung Fook Tong Group has implemented a hybrid work model on a trial basis which offers their staff the chance to work from home one day a week along with providing a family-friendly workspace in the office with childcare services as well as running parent-child fun activities. Employees without children can go to work with their pets on “Pet Fun Days”.
Hung Fook Tong is piloting this flexible hybrid work model with the hope of retaining its best human resources post-pandemic and staying competitive in the labour market. Szeto Wing-fu, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of Hung Fook Tong believes that the latest manpower arrangement can meet the needs of different employees, and enhance their sense of belonging to the company while improving work efficiency that achieving a win-win situation for staff and the organisation.
Work Remotely Forever – A Game-Changing Policy
Airbnb’s decision is a game-changer, and it’s not just a way to lure and retain talent. It is part of a wider strategy for its platform users to book increasingly longer stays in Airbnb homes by using them as remote offices.
“We have changed the new way to search on Airbnb for a new world of travel that we think is permanent,” says Catherine Powell, Airbnb’s global head of hosting. “Now, obviously, not everybody has the same flexibility, not everybody can work remotely in the same way. But we believe that there is newfound flexibility. People are discovering new places, domestically as well as internationally. And they are staying longer.”
The company found that instead of booking properties for days at a time, people were booking for weeks or even months at a time. The “work from anywhere” trend had arrived, and the lines between living, working, and traveling were blurring. In Q1 2022, long-term stays on Airbnb were at an all-time high more than doubling from Q1 2019.
“It’s clear that we are undergoing the biggest change to travel since the advent of commercial flying,” Chesky said about the company’s recent performance. “Remote work has untethered many people from the need to be in an office. And as a result, people are spreading out to thousands of towns and cities, staying for weeks, months, or even entire seasons at a time.” We may even see that this new hybrid model of working remotely could influence migration trends.
Airbnb staff and other companies adopting the work from anywhere policy will be well served through WeWork All Access and WeWork Day Passes, which offer diverse contemporary workspaces throughout Hong Kong and across many continents. Whether it’s just for a day, a week, or if there’s an in-country team meet-up, WeWork can foster a sense of belonging through its innovative spaces designed for collaboration, creativity, and networking along with private quiet areas for thinking and strategising.
Considering flexible ways to work? Learn more about our adaptable co-working spaces that support hybrid work models at wework.hk. Connect with us today to find out more.