The acceleration of remote work has created an entirely new category of long-term travel, according to Airbnb (ABNB) CEO Brian Chesky.
Now, he’s joining the ranks, opting to run his global company from a different Airbnb listing every few weeks — armed with nothing more than a laptop and good WiFi.
“I think that we’re living through probably the biggest change to travel since the advent of commercial flying, because the entire identity of travel is evolving,” he said, in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “ I think you’d figure, if millions of people are joining this trend, I should too.”
Chesky’s personal venture is part of a larger push by the home-sharing platform to capitalize on the explosive growth of decentralized living. Remote work has allowed employees to increasingly operate untethered, with more flexibility, and Airbnb is reaping the benefits.
‘More flexibility is where the world’s going’
In its most recent quarter, the company reported one out of every five gross nights booked on the platform were for stays of 28 days or longer. Nearly half the nights booked were for stays of seven days or longer, marking a near 45% jump from pre-pandemic levels.
“It could be a week, a couple weeks, months, or even entire seasons. What we’ve seen that’s changed is a newfound flexibility,” Chesky said. “People are traveling everywhere, all the time.”
Interest in remote work has surged over the last two years. And recent studies have shown that demand for flexible work remains, even as the economy has largely opened up. Job searches for remote work grew more than 300% between June 2019 and June 2021, according to Glassdoor.
That has shifted the business opportunity from travel to “living” for Airbnb, Chesky said, though he stressed that it’s growing focus on long-term stays marked an expansion, not a shift. The company has retooled its search function, to allow for users to find stays without being confined to specific dates. On Thursday, the company launched a new travel insurance program, to allow for more protection against cancellations. Last year, Airbnb unveiled a “Live Anywhere” pilot program offering free stays for a year, to 12 individuals and their families.
Chesky hinted the platform will have “some pretty big offerings” in the coming months, aimed at end-to-end solutions for travelers.
Airbnb has shifted its own corporate culture, alongside these changes. While the firm has yet to establish a long-term policy for a return to the office, it has allowed workers to remain home for the time being.
And while Chesky plans to return to the company’s San Francisco headquarters in between his Airbnb stays, he does not see a permanent return to a five-day work week that his employees experienced pre-pandemic.
“I think the days of people going back to the office five days a week are over. I even think the model that people were talking about remote by a hybrid of three days a week is also, a little overly ambitious,” he said. “I think that what everyone’s realizing is that more flexibility is where the world’s going.”
Akiko Fujita is an anchor and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AkikoFujita