If the current office didn’t exist, it wouldn’t be invented the way it is, says Brian Chesky. CEO of Airbnb. He judges that the model is something from the pre-digital age, and that it needs to be adapted for the new age, as well as the idea of going into the office itself.
Chesky says the company had its two most prolific years in its history while working remotely, which has left him betting heavily on the model. A few weeks ago, it announced that its US employees can continue to work remotely from anywhere, and plans to hire more people who live far from the company’s headquarters.
“Once companies become more dispersed, they will have to meet in San Francisco, Chicago or Florida. They can rent spaces when they need to,” Chesky told Folha. “We still don’t understand everything and in the next two years I will have a lot more opinions about it because everything is an experiment. We are just getting started,” he noted.
Airbnb launched a new version of its website and app this Wednesday (11). The new version divides accommodation into more than 50 categories, such as great pools, castles, manors, barns, boats, etc. The new layout also favors the photos of the accommodations, in a model that resembles posts from social networks like Instagram.
The platform also offers a protection package for free called AirCover, which includes guarantees of refund or relocation in case of cancellation by the owner of the place, difficulty in checking in and discrepancies between the benefits offered and the facilities. † There will also be a 24 hour call center to assist with security issues.
The company, which experienced a 30% drop in sales in 2020 due to the pandemic, managed to regain customer volume. In the first quarter of 2022, nights booked increased by 32% compared to the first quarter of 2019 and are at an all-time high, according to company data.
In 2021, about 20% of nights booked on Airbnb were for stays of a month or more, and nearly 50% for stays of a week or more.
Chesky spoke to Bed sheet in New York, after an event to launch the new features.
How do you see the future of remote working? It is only a prediction, and all predictions can be wrong. Everyone recognizes that five days a week is unsustainable for most office workers. And I think the reason for that is that flexibility, after compensation, is probably the benefit that people are most looking for.
When we announced our flexibility policy, it was very well received within the company and even very well received outside of it. We had over 1 million people visiting our careers page. And we only have 6,000 people in the company. Think how crazy this is.
That’s why I think the five-day work week in the office is over for most. And so the question is, if you don’t go back to the five-day model, how are you going to do it? Many people think of a middle ground, three days a week.
The problem is, three days doesn’t offer much more flexibility than five days a week.
You can have extended weekends, but you can’t be gone too long. You still have to live close to the office. And a lot of people have decided they don’t want to live in San Francisco or New York. They want to live somewhere else.
In my view, the three days a week become two days a week. I have friends who work in big companies and this happened. And I bet it will be one day a week in the summer. And if you go to the office any day of the week, what day do people hang out together?
And what is the way out? Why don’t we try to make time to work together instead? [presencialmente]like one week at a time? Or two weeks per quarter? I think most CEOs who have opted for the hybrid model will move to our model very soon, but they will have a longer and more painful journey to get there.
If you want to predict what the future of work will look like, look at new companies, not old ones. Twenty years ago, new companies took over full-floor offices with freebies. 20 years ago, Google was a small business.
what mr. considerations to evaluate whether or not to continue working remotely in the company? Mainly three points. I would look at the productivity of the company as if we are delivering new things, if we are effective. We had the two most productive years in our history.
The second is retention. Are people happy? And the third is renting. Are we taking more people with us?
What do you think the office design of the future will look like? It’s a fun topic that haunts my mind. I think the office is like a Blackberry. It’s kind of a common space for everything. But it’s not very good for meetings, for concentration. The beauty of the iPhone is that the interface changes according to the function you use.
If I want to do something outside of the office, why not go to a retreat area with a waterfall? If you want to do a big show, buy a whole theater. If you want to collaborate creatively, you don’t want an entire floor open, but a room with smaller space that you can stick things on. If I want people to focus on their work, I want them to have private offices.
So we need to move from these multifunctional spaces to more multifunctional spaces, and that is exactly what we need.
As companies become more dispersed, should they meet in San Francisco, Chicago or Florida or can we switch cities? They can rent spaces when needed. We still don’t understand everything, and in the coming years I will have a lot more opinions about that, because everything is an experiment. We’re just getting started.
The office is a pre-digital layout. And if he didn’t exist, we wouldn’t invent him as he is today. We would invent something new.
Did the pandemic have a major impact on tourism? Or should everything go back to the way it was? The pandemic has been overwhelmingly good for macro travel trends. I say this with the knowledge that there has been a lot of suffering and pain and many cornered areas where small businesses have gone out of business.
But the great thing is that there has been a shift from business tourism to recreational tourism. I am not against business tourism, but I do like leisure tourism.
The most meaningful way to travel is with family, friends and the things you do. Probably not the meetings you had while traveling.
When the borders closed, people stopped looking for destinations like tourist spots and double-decker buses. They will come back, but people have discovered other ways to travel, such as to national parks, small towns, rural communities. Homes have become destinations.
The pandemic leveled the playing field for travel, which became something of a commodity, mass tourism. My optimistic view is that the pandemic has changed that.
We are experiencing a rise in rents in various parts of the world, and Airbnb has already been mentioned as part of the problem because when owners prefer to list homes to tourists and not residents, the long-term rental supply is reduced. How is the company currently dealing with this issue? Housing is a super complicated thing. In general, there are more issues to do with urban housing policy than there are external factors.
We try to do our part. We comply with local laws and regulations. Some cities say you can only rent [para turismo] 120 days a year and sign up, and we do. Cities say you have to pay taxes like a hotel. And we pay. In fact, we pay $4 billion in fees like this.
But the Holy Grail here is spreading tourism.
You could say there is a carbon footprint generated by people moving around, but there are economic and social benefits associated with it. Humans are in a sense nomads. The best antidote is to scatter people across the calendar and around the world. Trying not to let people all go to the same place on the same days. Don’t just go to Paris, Rome, Athens.
Communities are better when there is a mix of locals and outsiders. If there are many outsiders, there is no community. But if there are no outsiders, you become xenophobic, narrow-minded.
Where there are more visitors than residents, you probably concentrate a lot of people. And today’s tools create this problem.
If you create a search box, you’re forcing people to type in what they’ve heard, and everyone’s going to type in the same places, and they’re going to go to the same places, and there’s going to be queues and the rents are going up.
Is Airbnb planning to invest more in long-term rentals and stays? We did a little this time, with the combined stays [sugestão de dividir o tempo de hospedagem entre dois locais na mesma área] which are a great way to use the product for more than a week.
But yes, we have updates in November, also in May, and you can expect a lot of news about long stays. Airbnb is definitely moving from traveling to living.
How do you see the outlook for tourism in Brazil and Latin America? Could the appreciation of the dollar against local currencies attract more tourists to the region? It’s possible, but I see it as a secondary factor. The beauty of travel patterns is the freedom of movement.
For example, we see many tourists crossing the border where they are freely accessible, something you don’t have in Asia now, for example.
How do you take advantage of the ability to work from anywhere? How do you choose your next destinations? I just open the app, check out the houses and grab something I like. I don’t have a systematic approach. For example, I stayed in a house in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with… [a cachorra] Sophie.
I wasn’t planning on going to Michigan, but I did and I saw that Ann Arbor is a nice college town. I never in my life thought this would be my home. So I have no idea where I’m going.
I’ll be in New York for another week or two, and then I’ll probably go somewhere else that I have no idea about. I like the spontaneity of travel.
Brian Chesky, 40,
Born in Niskayuna, NY, he studied design at the Rhode Island School of Design. He is the co-founder of Airbnb, founded in 2007, and current CEO of the company. He has a fortune estimated by Forbes at $9.2 billion, and he has pledged to give away most of his wealth during his lifetime.