Many companies are working remotely to keep their employees safe from the coronavirus, and Airbnb is no different. The company recently announced a set of remote work guidelines for its employees. It is supporting remote work with financial incentives, as well as allowing for remote work through August 2021. Airbnb is promoting the remote working trend starting with itself.
Airbnb is also capitalizing on this quickly-growing trend to drive more bookings through its platform. The company is pushing a new vision, “working from any home”, moving beyond the company’s brand identity of “belonging anywhere” that focuses on travel and the global community. Airbnb has disrupted travel and to a large extent, cities. How will the company’s new focus impact workers, real estate, and places around the world?
Remote Work Through Airbnb Driving Growth Outside Urban Areas
Airbnb has been a driving force in the gentrification of urban areas, with investors and property owners buying prime real estate with the express purpose of renting the units on the platform. This behavior has pushed real estate prices in many urban areas skyward, sometimes prompting anger from locals and action from governments across the world. All of this could change as the workforce shifts to remote work.
Without a centralized office location tying workers to an urban area, employees don’t necessarily need to stay in a dense city to find a great job. The only thing remote workers need to do their jobs is a space to work and a stable internet connection — and this can be found in areas outside of cities. This, coupled with the skyrocketing cost of living in urban areas, could drive an exodus of white-collar workers to more rural areas.
The company said that searches mentioning “remote work” or “work remotely” has tripled since the same time period last year. Airbnb also said that many guests have booked long-term stays of 28 days or longer, with some of the fastest-growing areas seen outside of major metropolitan centers:
- Stratton, Stowe and Windsor County in Vermont
- Portland and Western Maine
- Whitefish, Montana
- Summit County and Steamboat Springs in Colorado
- Shenandoah National Park in Virginia
- Utica, Saratoga Springs and the Adirondacks in New York
The flight of high-skilled urban workers to more rural areas has big implications for real estate prices in those areas. Redfin showed that real estate prices rose around 11% in rural areas in July 2020. The gentrification of rural areas could evolve in a similar way to how the company impacted urban areas.
The pandemic has accelerated many trends, and remote work is no different. We may learn more about Airbnb’s future plan when it IPOs later this year.