the Office Is ‘Anachronistic’ and ‘From a Pre-Digital Age’

  • Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky recently announced the company will let employees work remotely forever without losing pay.
  • In an interview for Time’s The Leadership Brief, he said “the office as we know it, is over.”
  • He also explained why he thinks the three-day in-office hybrid model is flawed.

For Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, working at the office is now a relic of the past.

In an interview for Time’s The Leadership Brief published Sunday, Chesky said he believes the office is “an anachronistic form” that’s “from a pre-digital age.” His comments come after Airbnb announced earlier this week that it will let employees work remotely forever with no pay cut, citing the ability to widen its talent pool and noting the company had its most productive two-year period ever while working remotely.

“I think that the office as we know it, is over,” he told Time. “We can not try to hold on to 2019 any more than 1950. We have to move forward.”

He continued: “If the office did not exist, I like to ask, would we invent it? And if we invented it, what would it be invented for? 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? “

Shortly after announcing that Airbnb will go fully remote, Chesky said the company’s careers page received more than 800,000 views.

In January, Chesky said he was “living on Airbnb,” working from various cities across the US. In his TIME interview on Sunday, he acknowledged there will still be some need for offices, but concluded “the office has to do something a home can’t do.”

“People will still go to offices, but it’ll be for different purposes, for collaboration spaces,” he said.

Chesky told Time working 100% remotely can diversify hiring since employees can be based anywhere, but it can also make some employees feel isolated from their coworkers and company.

While he said a compromise is necessary, he believes there are flaws with the common hybrid work model of having employees work from the office three days a week, which companies like Google and Apple are using.

Airbnb’s alternative to this model is to have employees meet up in person roughly one week per quarter.

“My prediction is three days a week becomes two days a week, and two days a week becomes one day a week, and pretty soon are you really in a hybrid world, or are you mostly a remote world?” he said. “People do not realize this two, three days a week thing is not super sustainable. People are going to realize, ‘OK, let’s be more intentional about when people gather. And let’s gather for a week or two at a time.’ “

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