“I think that the office as we know it, is over,” said Airbnb Chief Executive Brian Chesky, in an interview with Time magazine’s The Leadership Brief.
The return to office workplaces has been met with some controversy and has revealed insights regarding how Americans want to work. Not only do a significant number of employees not want to go back to office buildings five days a week, some think three days is too inflexible. How companies handle this will have a tremendous impact on employee morale and the perception of workplace culture, coming off the heels of the Great Resignation era. Employee experience is the majority of leaders’ number one priority right now.
A recent global survey showed more than 50% of employees would be willing to take a pay cut if it meant coming into the office less, and nearly two-thirds would look for a new job if their company did away with flexible work arrangements and required them to return to the office full time. While some businesses are now offering a hybrid work schedule, many workers want even more flexibility. Apple workers, for example, have been vocal in criticizing the tech giant’s new plan requiring employees to be in the office, for three set days a week, as too inflexible.
TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN TOP TALENT, IS THE ULTIMATE ANSWER NEAR-COMPLETE WORKPLACE FLEXIBILITY?
Chesky believes the answer is flexibility. “The solution is going to be a true hybrid, not three days in the office,” he said. “It’s going to be total flexibility, and then gathering in an immersive way when you need (to).” He points out that the changes will be especially noticeable in younger companies. He notes that the vast majority of the new generation of leaders has a different mindset. These typically bored and brilliant types are more than happy to shake up the status quo. They are less impressed and more involved. Chesky also predicts hybrid, two-three days in the physical workplace quickly devolving into one day as people realize the lack of sustainability of the hybrid model. They will realize the greater value of the remote model interwoven with longer stretches of in-person time with their colleagues. They will demand the conscious and intentional creation of an office plan, starting with the initial customer service training phase of employment, which truly works for everyone in this post-pandemic world.
You may think work from home only impacts organizations that do not require a physical presence. However, even industries such as doctors’ offices, retail, and restaurants have seen their support staff (receptionists, cashiers, sales associates, and servers) leave those jobs for more convenient positions which allow them to work remotely.
*Related – How to Solve the Work from Home Quandary
Airbnb recently announced that the company’s employees will be able to work from anywhere. As a result, Airbnb’s recruiting page received a million visitors. Chesky said this move reflected current sentiment and was intended to retain top talent. Arguably it was also a move that made an enormously positive impact on workplace culture. The company released first-quarter earnings that closely matched pre-pandemic levels. Airbnb reported it topped 100 million bookings in a quarter for the first time, and reported that “Two years into the pandemic, Airbnb is substantially stronger than ever before.”
YOU CAN’T FIGHT THE FUTURE OFFICE . . . IT IS ON A LAPTOP
“You can’t fight the future, we can’t try to hold on to 2019 any more than 1950,” Chesky said. “For somebody whose job is on a laptop, the question is, well, what is an office meant to do?”
The evolving workplace is made of remote, personal workspaces all around the globe, with a common ground of the internet. It will continue to include a much more even distribution of workers, geographically speaking. And when employees do share in-person office time, it will be for collaborative purposes.
DECREASING HUMAN CONNECTION WITH 100% REMOTE WORK IS NOT THE SOLUTION
Even before the pandemic, due to the digital age, people’s social skills were at an all-time low. Remote work has only decreased human connections which has significant negative consequences on factors such as employees being loyal to their leaders and companies. In addition, employees can feel lonely and disconnected which leads to anxiety and depression. Additional drawbacks to remote work are a lack of collaboration amongst employees, as well as people not getting exposed to others who share different viewpoints. “On the internet, you could create a hermetically sealed bubble of people just like you. Suddenly, you can live in your own reality,” Chesky noted. For better, or for worse.
Clearly, 100% remote work is not the solution. We have to find balance. The question is what does balance look like? All leaders want their processes to run in the most efficient and profitable ways, and technology helps a lot. Yet, technological efficiency can breed its own dangers. To reiterate, in this new landscape, the less employees feel connected with each other the greater the possibility of mental health issues rooted in loneliness. Meaningful new ways for people to gather in person must be designed. In addition to other benefits, this approach will create powerful relationship builders.
BLURRING THE LINES BETWEEN HOME AND AWAY, WORK AND PLAY
Internal company data shows that people are booking longer stays on the Airbnb platform to a greater variety of places. That’s not just a sign that more workers now have the flexibility to work from wherever they want. It might be the first step toward more of us rethinking the concept of home, entirely.
Airbnb is now embracing the idea that it can be an alternative to permanent housing as well. According to a fascinating article titled, Airbnb thinks remote work will change travel forever, David Pierce writes. “What WeWork wants to do for offices — unbundle them, and simplify the process of getting and using them — Airbnb wants to do for homes. It’s not just out to get the Hyatts and Hiltons of the world anymore. It’s coming for the one-year leases and the mortgage payments too.”
The future of travel might be the emergence of remote work and vacationing, where the adventure never ends. It’s the idea that vacations and home start to lose their boundaries entirely. Where will you live and work? Wherever you happen to want to be that month. Exciting times, perhaps, to start thinking about a customer service revolution.
EPISODE 83 OF THE CSREVOLUTION PODCAST – Restaurant Group Increases Sales and Profits During Unprecedented Times
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Life’s too short to play small with your talents, you were born into the opportunity as well as the responsibility to do remarkable things. You’ve been built to achieve greatness.”
CX VIDEO CLIP OF THE WEEK
Be a Disney Hangover
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