Airbnb’s ‘WFH Forever’ Policy Puts Way Too Much Trust In Employees


While Google and Microsoft entice employees back to the office with fried chicken and wine tastings, Airbnb has said its employees can keep the sweatpant lifestyle indefinitely.

But most modern-day workers are used to being micromanaged, not cut adrift. So how are changes like these going to affect performance in the long term?

Well, that’s the big question (and the question that started getting bandied about on Twitter) after Airbnb announced it had scrapped its ‘return to office by September 2022’ plan in lieu of a ‘work from home forever’ (if you like) policy.

Some, though mildly flabbergasted, massively backed it. One wrote on Twitter: “Like it! Much more sustainable, if the company structure allows it. I never understood why I had to sit in my car for 3 hours a day to do something in an office I can do from home.”

Others made remarks like: “It’s the future” and “how sensible.”

Others, however, claimed such a policy puts way too much faith in human industriousness. As another Twitter user wrote: “No one… can believe that an absentee workforce is going to work on the honour system and that performance won’t suffer.”

Another said: “I won’t be buying any company stock.”

The Airbnb CEO said the flexible work policy (under the scheme employees can work from home, or anywhere within the country, without a reduction in pay) would help with talent recruitment (and maintenance), pointing out that commute workforces limit themselves to the talent pool nearby (or the talent pool willing to commute) rather than simply all the talented people in the world or country.

The move might also be designed to bring attention to Airbnb’s Live Anywhere program, a yearlong initiative that gave 12 people the chance to travel the world while working from Airbnbs. Airbnb is also a proponent of the work while you travel phenomenon, and would want to be seen as supportive of such communities as digital nomads. So from that perspective, the move makes sense, too.

Though we definitely think working from home forever puts a little too much trust in employees, perhaps it’s better to trust your employees a little too much rather than a little too little.

Only time (and the timesheets) of forward-thinking companies like Airbnb will tell. Here’s hoping though that during this era of freelancing and the work from home revolution companies find a healthy, productive middle ground that fosters a better ‘standard culture’ for the future.

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