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Image: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

As remote and hybrid work setups become more and more common with companies, some workers are finding that being flexible in working outside of their normal office space may be an amenity for employees. Airbnb has released a survey of 7,500 consumers in five countries detailing what workers are desiring most as companies adjust their in-office policies.

“It’s surprising to see how the shift to remote working and a hybrid work model continues to revolutionize travel, in the biggest change since the advent of commercial flying,” said Liz DeBold Fusco, North America Communications Lead at Airbnb. “On our own platform, one out of every five gross nights booked from July to September 2021 were for stays of 28 days or longer — and on top of that, this trend is happening everywhere. 6,000 places had their first-ever Airbnb booking during the pandemic, and rural communities are now able to benefit from the tourism economy in ways that maybe weren’t possible before. Amidst this change, it’s great to see some of the largest companies in the world meeting these evolving needs head on.”

Employees now more open to travel

In the 7,500-person survey, Airbnb found that more than a third of employees polled are no longer seeking work from companies mandating a five-day, in-office workweek, and that they would rather quit their jobs than go back to in-person work full time. A majority (63%) of those surveyed said that as companies are adjusting their in-office policies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that employees now expect their employers to exert an increased level of flexibility when it comes to where and how work is completed.

As the travel restrictions continue to loosen up, the interest in travelers has continued to grow following the lockdowns and quarantine periods that preceded it. Both in-country and international travel numbers have begun to see an uptick as well. AirBNB notes in their findings a 40% increase in the amount of travelers booking stays during the Thanksgiving holiday from 2019 to 2021, and 71% of polled travelers saying they were either interested in travel or currently booking travel arrangements. With international bookings becoming more available to prospective travelers, cross-border travel numbers are also up, increasing at a rate of 13% from the beginning of 2021 to the end of the year.

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The flexibility of working from home or remotely has also led to some employees changing their travel habits as well. Of those polled, 55% said they were hoping to travel more during off-peak times from work, and 53% indicated that they were now more open to spontaneous travel as compared to before the pandemic. Over a third (37%) said they were looking into long-stay travel since work can now be completed from areas outside their normal in-office space with more flexible hours.

“What’s notable here is that many companies are giving their employees the option to choose their living and working arrangements — and essentially choose the option that best fits their needs,” Fusco said. “The flexibility among businesses to allow for more flexible living is an important part of this trend. For example, global businesses like Amazon announced a hybrid working approach in 2021 while Dropbox introduced ‘Virtual First’, a robust program establishing remote work, in October 2020.”

The availability of travel has also increased the duration of many travelers’ stays, as 45% of those booking accommodations elsewhere elected to visit for longer than a week. Families also saw an increase in travel, as individuals with children saw the most growth in stays during the beginning portion of the week.

Amenities and location preferences

Of those respondents who indicated they were looking for a long-stay accommodation outside of the home, at least 50% of recent nights were for stays of a month or longer. The five most popular destinations for those looking to work remotely were largely made up of locations with warm weather: Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando and the South Florida Atlantic Coast, with New York being the lone exception to this. The cities that travelers were coming from were mostly areas with colder weather during the winter months such as London, Paris, Toronto and Vancouver. Santiago, Chile was the exception to this trend seen among travelers in the more frigid times of the year.

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With more travelers seeking to complete tasks from their home office space in the pandemic, many were looking for specific amenities to assist with getting work done. The top-requested amenity was WiFi, followed by spaces that allowed pets, spaces with kitchens and housing that came with washers and dryers. From 2019 to 2021, there were significant increases in long-term travelers searching for locations that allowed them to bring their pets, up 128% from 2019, places with laptop-friendly workspaces, up 73% from 2019 and searches for places that had both WiFi and allowed pets, an increase of 270% from 2019.

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