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13 Jan 2023
by Dawn Lewis

REBA Inside Track: live and work anywhere – the evolution of global remote working

Live and work anywhere…a pipe dream or viable way of working? Airbnb certainly thinks so

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Hybrid and remote working are now very much part and parcel of the workplace, with many employees expecting to have access to more flexible working arrangements. It’s certainly a trend that is filtering through in REBA’s research.

Our Benefits Design Research 2022 found that half of all respondents plan to increase their spend on benefits that support remote or agile working, while 58% of employers are thinking about introducing remote working support.

Leaders in the world of remote working though have to be Airbnb. Last year it announced its ‘live and work anywhere’ policy, Airbnb’s design for employees to live and work anywhere, which has five key features:

1.    You can work from home or the office
2.    You can move anywhere in the country you work in and your compensation won’t change
3.    You have the flexibility to travel and work around the world
4.    We’ll meet up regularly for team gathering, off-sites and social events
5.    We’ll continue to work in a highly coordinated way.

I’m going to look most closely at point three.

For me, the idea of packing up my laptop for three months (preferably during the winter) and jetting off to warmer climes is very appealing – it’s currently raining. Again. But for most organisations this is not only a highly complicated thing to manage, but also has practical implications around taxation and payroll that can’t be overlooked. Not to mention issues around time zones.

But Airbnb is keen to find a way to enable exactly this for its workforce. Its co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky, said in an email to employees last year: “Starting in September, you can live and work in over 170 countries for up to 90 days a year in each location. Everyone will still need a permanent address for tax and payroll purposes, but we’re excited to give you this level of flexibility.”

Now part of the reason for this move is linked to what Airbnb does as a business – it’s in its interest to prove remote working works. As Chesky says: “We’re actively partnering with local governments to make it easier for more people to travel and work around the world. Today, 20+ countries offer remote work visas, and more are in the works.”

Of course, this type of working will only suit a small minority of workers. Not only do they need to be office-based employees who can work from a laptop, but their personal lives also need to align.
I’ve got two school-aged children, so my winter-sun dreams will have to wait! 

The point, however, is that global remote working is no longer just plausible. With the right commitment and drive from employers, alongside suitable personal circumstances, it is practical and achievable. 

Understanding the impact of this type of remote working on reward and benefits is not likely to be high on many practitioners’ priority lists right now. But as the talent market continues to be squeezed differentiators, such as the ability to work from anywhere in the world, could become more important to candidates and employers alike.


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