For over 200 years, people have worked from various buildings as their offices, stores, studios, etc. After the pandemic of 2019 began, our society started to reexamine the idea of how we could accomplish work and stay safe from COVID. The answer became to work remotely from home. For many, this was a godsend as it meant they could spend more time with their families, and for others, with preexisting medical conditions this meant that they could ensure they stayed as healthy as possible.
As the pandemic is coming to an end, many employers are finding their workers simply don’t want to return to the office. Many have found themselves being more productive from home, and others still appreciate the easier morning routine. By not having to make the 45-minute average commute most Americans take, these employees are starting their workday better rested and with a clearer state of mind.
With the invention of products like Zoom, Adobe Connect, or Microsoft Teams, employers are finding out that they can still have face-to-face meetings, conduct interviews, and get everyone on the same page easily by sharing digital documents.
These kinds of innovations keep the American people connected, and one company that has greatly benefitted from this connection and people going remote is Airbnb. Their CEO Brian Chesky told Time magazine all about the idea of how the work environment has shifted in a recent interview. “It’s kind of like an anachronistic form. It’s from a pre-digital age. If the office didn’t exist, I like to ask, would we invent it?… The solution is going to be a true hybrid, not three days in the office. It’s going to be total flexibility, and then gathering in an immersive way when you need Most CEOs are from a different generation. Young leaders are going to think quite differently.”
So far, he has backed up his sentiments with actions. Last month, Airbnb announced that all their employees could work from nearly anywhere and take no cut in pay. While this is a great idea, it has also been part of the rising housing costs in the country. When people learned what their house in San Francisco would sell for, they sold it quickly and took the cash to buy a house for 1/10th of the cost in a smaller city like Tucson, AZ, or Boise, Idaho.
Cash offers combined with the ones from real estate investors made it impossible for many to buy a home without overpaying. Something that Airbnb has been making money on. When these newly freed workers could start traveling, they went on vacations, worked remotely while exploring new places, and tried to imagine a more nomadic and ever-evolving lifestyle. Doing this helped stimulate the economy in many rural areas, and gave remote workers hope.
Chesky forecasts other changes will be coming very soon as well. “My suspicion is a week per quarter is probably going to be enough human connection for the average person to come together and bond,” he said. When it does happen, he envisions something very different: “If people go into an office for collaboration, do they need to go to New York City or can they go to a retreat in upstate New York?” While this view is certainly focused on making Airbnb a profit, he’s not wrong at all.
Additionally, people form tighter bonds while away on a retreat than they do sitting around in a boardroom. By experiencing different facets of each person’s personality throughout these kinds of retreats, they can better learn who might be best suited for a particular assignment on a big project, or who needs more help because they have been struggling with their personal lives. It’s too bad it took a pandemic for leaders to learn this. Can you imagine where we would be if they started doing this on a grand scale in the 90s?