Managing company culture and employee experience in a remote first world. Work from Anywhere, practical issues and future possibilities. The RES Forum

Written by a Global Mobility leader in the technology sector

Post-pandemic, the work landscape has truly changed for companies large and small, local and global. Where, pre-pandemic, employers allowing home working one or two days per week were seen as generous, there is now an expectation from many employees to not only be home based most of the time but to be able to perform their work anywhere in the world.

Particularly in the tech sector – where most work can be done effectively anywhere there is an internet connection – there is an increased demand for employers to enable international remote working. Overlaying that with a scarcity of critical skills in the tech sector has created a demand to which employers had to react and create solutions.

In the last two years there has been a rapid increase in companies creating global mobility roles facilitating international remote work, none more so than Airbnb who have set up a team of “Live Anywhere Specialists.” Pre-pandemic, such a team would have been unthinkable. The primary remit of this and other teams like it, is to enable employees to move anywhere (although, only where Airbnb has an office) in a compliant fashion, considering immigration and tax legislation. Their secondary, but (nearly) equal remit is to create a framework where employees who move and work remotely can still thrive in the organisation and maintain a strong sense of organisational culture. 

Employees who used to be fully remote previously worried about missing opportunities and organisational culture. In 2022, given the complete turnaround in the attitudes to remote working, employers are now expected to create an environment where everyone can thrive. This counts equally for employees who are fully remote as for those in the office most of the time. Depending on the organisation and its geographical spread, this is more or less of a challenge.

In truly global companies where many roles have regional or global responsibilities, it’s likely that stakeholders are spread around the world, and teams are often managed remotely, making it less of an issue. For those global organisations, working and managing virtually is second nature, allowing them to adapt easier to the new way of working. As would have been the norm for dispersed management teams, company culture is built, and employee engagement is achieved through face-to-face offsites. This mindset allows such organisations to use this model with local offices where remote work would not have been the norm.

For smaller organisations this is much more difficult to achieve, particularly where neither the management nor the employees would be familiar with remote work. Yet, in the new world of work – and to be able to compete in the war for talent – they must offer partly or fully remote roles. These organisations would do well to consider the Airbnb Live and Work anywhere model. This model allows employees to work where they are comfortable, rather than forcing them into an office, which enables them to do their best every day.

Airbnb, however, recognises that a fully remote worker may not feel connected to the company or the culture. To fix this, they commit to facilitating in-person “value add sessions” on a quarterly basis. While there is a cost to these offsites, this is offset by reduced costs of office space. And done right, these in-person sessions can have an incredible impact on morale and collaboration.


RES Forum research

This piece is from the RES Forum’s research paper – Work from Anywhere, practical issues and future possibilities. You can download the paper here.