How did Airbnb approach offering ‘Work from Anywhere’ benefits to their staff compliantly? Read on to find out.
The traditional workplace has been rapidly changing since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. With remote working becoming the new normal, businesses are looking for ways to maximise the potential of the new reality.
There are a number of practical challenges to successfully and compliantly implementing a work-from-anywhere policy. One of the most talked about is Airbnb’s “Work from Anywhere” policy, which offers most employees the freedom to work from any location in the world.
How did they do it, and how can others learn from Airbnb’s approach to compliantly offer their staff the same benefits? Read on to find out.
Introduction to the “Work from Anywhere” Policy
Airbnb’s “Work from Anywhere” policy is designed to address compliance challenges and unlock the potential of remote working. This policy is different from a traditional telecommuting policy, as it gives employees the option of working from anywhere in the world.
The policy requires employees to spend at least three months in each location they choose to work from in order to foster a sense of community and build relationships with colleagues. This ensures the most meaningful connections happen, and individuals can meet regularly for team gatherings.
Additionally, the policy has a built-in security measure, as employees are required to use a VPN when working from public networks.
Why did Airbnb introduce this policy?
Brian Chesky, the CEO and co-founder of Airbnb, stated that “people are no longer just travelling in Airbnb’s. They are living in them”. This is a statement that has a profound impact on the travel industry, as it proves that people are spending more time in locations outside of their home country and are looking for more flexibility in where they choose to reside.
Airbnb made significant profits and success due to the millions of people who chose to work from Airbnb apartments during the COVID-19 pandemic. It led to “the most productive two-year period in our company’s history,” according to CEO Brian Chesky.
Thus, it makes sense that they wish to encourage remote working themselves, as it is that very model which has brought increased success to their business.
The policy creates a culture or work-life balance, where Airbnb employees have the freedom to work remotely be it from anywhere in the country, a temporary move or a permanent international move. The policy seeks to promote amazing creativity, whilst ensuring meaningful human connection whether meeting in the same room at the office, at company off-sites or in various locations around the world from San Francisco to Tokyo.
In this new world, companies that fail to implement such a policy will be considered dinosaurs from decades ago, will struggle to attract top talent from diverse backgrounds and will have lower access to the global talent pool.
However, to successfully implement this policy on a global scale, Airbnb has had to implement a 30-person team within HR to approve work-from-anywhere requests and ensure the vast majority of their employees can work from their desired location compliantly.
This is because international remote working comes with a host of tax, legal, employment and wider compliance risks. So, how can you implement such a policy without such a significant burden?
International Tax Risks of Remote Working
One of the biggest challenges of remote working is the issue of international taxes.
Some of the key points include:
- Permanent Establishment (PE) Risk:
If an employee works remotely in a foreign country for an extended period, it can create a risk of the employer having a Permanent Establishment in that country. This can trigger tax obligations such as corporate income tax, withholding tax, and social security contributions.
- Double Taxation Risk:
Remote workers may be subject to tax in multiple jurisdictions, which can lead to double taxation. For example, an employee who is a tax resident in one country but is working remotely in another country may be subject to tax in both countries on their income. This can result in a higher tax burden and can create compliance challenges for both the employee and employer.
- Compliance Risk:
Remote workers may be subject to different tax laws, regulations, and reporting requirements in the countries where they are working. This can create compliance risks for employees and employers, who may be required to register with tax authorities, file tax returns, and pay taxes in those countries.
- Transfer Pricing Risk:
Remote working can also create transfer pricing risks, which arise when related parties (such as an employer and an employee) engage in cross-border transactions. Transfer pricing rules require that these transactions be conducted at arm’s length, and if they are not, it can result in additional tax liabilities, penalties, and interest charges.
To mitigate these risks, employers and employees should seek advice from tax professionals and review their contracts, policies, and procedures to ensure compliance with international tax laws and regulations.
Employers may also need to consider the impact of remote working on their tax strategies and corporate structures, and employees may need to consider their tax residency status and the tax implications of their remote work arrangements.
Centuro Global offers the right solution to ensure your staff can work from anywhere compliantly.
International Remote Work and Visas
Companies must also be aware of the visa requirements for employees working in different countries. Companies must ensure that their employees are compliant with the visa laws of each country they are working in.
Some of the key immigration and visa risks of international remote working include:
- Right-to-work Checks: Working remotely from a foreign country without proper work authorization can violate local laws and regulations. This can result in fines, penalties, and deportation for both the employee and the employer.
- Visa Compliance Risk: Employees who are working remotely from a foreign country may be required to obtain a specific visa or work permit, even if they are not physically present in the country. Failure to obtain the proper visa or work permit can result in visa violations and can impact future visa applications.
- Immigration Policy Changes: Immigration policies and regulations can change rapidly, particularly in response to global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This can create uncertainty for employers and employees who may need to adjust their work arrangements or visa applications.
Many countries and local governments are starting to launch digital nomad visas to attract international visitors so some companies may wish to be selective and pick a specific location where remote work is permitted rather than allow staff to work from anywhere fully remote.
Remote Work Policy and Compliance
When building remote work policies, companies must ensure that they are compliant with the laws and regulations of each country in which their employees are working.
This includes ensuring that the policies are in line with the country’s labour laws, tax laws, and visa requirements are met.
Furthermore, companies must ensure that their remote work policies are up-to-date and compliant with the ever-changing laws and regulations. This can be achieved by regularly reviewing the policies and making necessary changes to ensure compliance.
The Future of Remote Working
The future of remote working is bright as more and more companies are beginning to embrace its potential. Companies are looking to take advantage of remote working by investing in the right tools and technologies and offering employees the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. Those who fail to do so will be at a significant disadvantage in attracting new job seekers.
Ultimately, the future of remote working will be shaped by the policies implemented by companies. Airbnb’s “Work from Anywhere” policy is a great example of this, as it offers employees the freedom to work from anywhere in the world while still maintaining a sense of team cohesion and collaboration whilst maintaining relationships, whether they work from home or the office or overseas.
Remote working is here to stay, and companies must be prepared to unlock the potential of remote working.
Airbnb’s “Work from Anywhere” policy is a great example of how companies can maximize the potential of remote working while still being compliant with the laws and regulations of each country.
Companies must ensure that their remote work policies are up-to-date and compliant with the ever-changing laws and regulations. Additionally, companies must be aware of the potential tax liabilities and visa requirements for their employees.
By investing in the right tools and technologies and offering employees the freedom to work from anywhere in the world, companies can unlock the potential of remote working and experience the many benefits it has to offer.
Rather than build huge teams to review and approve work-from-anywhere requests, companies can now use technology and outsourced support from Centuro Global to effectively and compliantly permit international remote work.
Services include right-to-work checks, visa and immigration support, tax compliance, policy writing and much more for every country in the world, all tracked and managed via one centralised platform, Centuro Connect.