As big tech offices begin to open back up, is working from anywhere here to stay? Airbnb sure thinks so.
Financially, Airbnb had its best fourth quarter in the company’s history, raking in $1.5 billion in revenue and $55 million in net income, a record for the company. Its annual revenue for 2021 was $6 billion, up 77% year over year and up 25% from 2019, with a net loss of $352 million for the year, compared to $4.5 billion in 2020.
Airbnb has continued to reap the benefits of “the new normal” this past quarter, with many workers taking long-term trips as remote work gave more people the opportunity to work from a Hobbit-esque “earth house” in Montana or take Zoom calls from a covered wagon in Nevada. The average trip length has increased by 15% over the past two years, and rentals lasting a week or longer represent close to half of all bookings in this past quarter. Bookings of 28 nights or longer held strong as Airbnb’s fastest-growing trip category by length, accounting for 22% of gross nights, compared to 16% in the fourth quarter of 2019. Nearly 175,000 Airbnb guests stayed for three months or longer in the past year.
“Remote work has untethered people from the need to be in an office,” said Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb, in the company’s Tuesday earnings call.
Airbnb is betting on the continuation of this trend by making “Live anywhere on Airbnb” one of its 2022 priorities. It aims to attract more hosts by listening to the “obstacles, myths, and misconceptions there are to becoming a Host” as a way to meet demand.
“We want to design for this new world by making it even easier for guests to live on Airbnb,” the company said in its earnings release. “In 2022, we will accelerate our pace of innovation as millions of people live in Airbnbs for weeks, months, or entire seasons at a time.”
But working from anywhere might no longer be so easy as some tech companies begin their return to the office. Microsoft announced Monday that it will reopen its Washington and Bay Area offices at the end of February, and Meta announced in January that its return to in-person work would begin at the end of March. Meanwhile, companies like Twitter and Salesforce have already embraced in-person work in recent months.
The rise of the hybrid workplace is likely to affect the future of the work-cation, said Brian Kropp, chief of HR research for consulting firm Gartner. More and more businesses are adopting one of two hybrid models of work: either requiring multiple days in the office per week or allowing employees to come into the office “when it makes the most sense” for them, he said. As many begin to require some time in the office (including Meta and Salesforce), extended stays for weeks or months are likely to drop, while “four-day weekend and five-day weekend” trips pick up.
“You probably are going to see a shifting of what these bookings look like, but still have a fair amount as people take advantage of that longer time,” Kropp told Protocol. “I think we're still going to see a lot of demand for these short- to medium-term times spent at Airbnbs, but what we're not likely to see is, like, the three-month stay.”
If your office is still remote, maybe take that month-long trip to the mountains while you still can.