“I guarantee you that many of these CEOs who are calling people back to the office in New York City are going away to the Hamptons for the summer or going to Europe in August,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said.

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The CEO of Airbnb Brian Chesky called out his fellow chief executives for instituting return-to-office programs while they continue to work remotely.

In an interview on The Verge’s Decoder podcast that aired this week, Brian Chesky pointed out that many of the CEOs calling their employees back to the office in New York City are likely spending their summers working outside of the city.

“I guarantee you that many of these CEOs who are calling people back to the office in New York City are going away to the Hamptons for the summer or going to Europe in August,” Chesky said. “I still think that’s happening. So you still have incremental flexibility. That’s way more than the old world before Zoom.”

Airbnb announced in 2022 that it would allow its employees to live and work from “anywhere” without any adjustment to their salaries unless they changed countries. Chesky claimed at the time that the company “had the most productive two-year period in our company’s history — all while working remotely,” and that it received over 800,000 new job applications after making the announcement.

“I don’t think most people will find that they need 100% of their workforce together 50 weeks a year to do that,” Chesky told The Verge. Airbnb employees are currently expected to work together at least one week per quarter, he added.

Chesky said he has found his employees more productive while working remotely, but he still believes in-person interaction has its benefits.

“We don’t want to recreate this world of ‘Wall-E‘ where everyone’s just staring at screens all day and no one has any interaction in the physical world,” he said.

“I go to the office not every day of every week,” he added. “Probably, every other week, I go in multiple days a week.”

Airbnb isn’t the only company to try moving away from complete remote work  In a shift from giving employees the flexibility to work remotely following the COVID-19 pandemic, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman told employees in April that they’ll be expected in the office starting in July, as reported by Inman.

Kelman, who once told employees they wouldn’t be expected to return to the office, said employees living within 20 miles of its offices in Seattle, San Francisco and Frisco must work in the office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Anyone living outside the 20-mile radius must make quarterly visits to the office, Kelman said.

The change doesn’t apply to Redfin agents, who are considered employees of the company but are not among those headquartered at Redfin’s main office.

The rise of remote work has had an extremely adverse impact on commercial real estate, with some models predicting a 39 percent drop in office building valuations between 2019 and 2029. In Airbnb’s home city of San Francisco, nearly 18.4 million square feet of office space is vacant and nearly 30 percent of office buildings have space available to lease, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

Airbnb meanwhile, turned a profit during the first quarter for the first time ever in 2023, generating $117 million in net income and growing its income by 20 percent annually. It also notched its first-ever profitable year in 2022, posting $1.9 billion in profits.

Email Ben Verde

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