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Airbnb embracing remote workforce; Employees allowed to work/live anywhere

Widespread work-from-home policies may empty San Francisco offices 01:58

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) -- San Francisco-based Airbnb will allow its employees to live and work almost anywhere around the world, fully embracing a remote work policy to attract staff and ensure flexibility.

The San Francisco short-term-stay company said late Thursday that under the new policy, employees can work from the office, home or during their travels to 170 countries.

Staff will still have to meet in person for regular team meetings and events, CEO Brian Chesky said in a message to employees. Salaries won't change if employees decide to move.

Employees can spend up to three months working in each country they visit every year but they will still need a permanent address for tax and payroll reasons, which involves a "mountain of complexities," but Chesky said the company is working on an open-source solution.

The new policy will put the company in a better position to hire and retain the best people by not "limiting the talent pool to a commuting radius around our offices," Chesky said. Remote work and flexibility "will become the predominant way that we all work 10 years from now," he said.

Millions of people switched to working remotely during the pandemic to limit potential exposure to COVID-19. Companies are beginning to ask those workers to come back to the office, at least on a hybrid basis, including other tech companies such as Facebook parent Meta and Microsoft.

Think tank Joint Venture Silicon Valley says workplace flexibility is going to be the new norm.

"The interesting shift is that this has come to be classified now as a worker right -- not a privilege but a right. In other words, it's a perk that has come to be expected and I think the world is just going to be organized that way," said president and CEO Russell Hancock.

"There will be ripple effects in the economy. We'll see that in the corporate kitchens, we'll see that in the other corporate services that used to be provided on a full-time basis, now they're only being provided on an occasional basis," Hancock said.

Small businesses may struggle to get foot traffic.

This week the San Francisco Controller's Office released a report that found that more than 20 percent of office space is sitting empty in the city, up from 7% in January 2020.

Jonathan Perez of Emeryville currently works from home for a for-profit education institution.

"If I'm getting paid the lifestyle of San Francisco -- which is a high lifestyle -- and I could move to the Midwest and get paid a really nice job, salary and then buy a house in the Midwest," he said. "So it would actually incentivize me to maybe not live here because it's very expensive here."

Rita Gilliland is visiting San Francisco from Houston where she's already spotted a lot of California license plates around town.

"If you're the person from California moving -- yeah, absolutely it's good for you. Cost of living is significantly different in Houston," she said. "So anybody who's coming from California to Houston, if they're going to have their same pay, they're going to be doing pretty well. So it's probably a good perk for them."

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