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Airbnb has ideas about how governments can improve remote work

In a new white paper, the home-rental platform suggests improving the visa process, encouraging visitor support of the local economy, and streamlining tax compliance.

Airbnb has ideas about how governments can improve remote work
[Photo: Roberto Nicksong/Unsplash]

Airbnb is proposing a number of policy changes that governments and cities could adapt to improve remote work across the globe.

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The home-rental platform released a white paper Thursday morning outlining steps that locations and lawmakers can take “to leverage the rise of remote work for their communities.” Recommendations include improving the visa process, encouraging visitor support of the local economy, and streamlining tax compliance.

“We don’t want to come in acting like we have the answers at this point. No one’s an expert and we want to be humble about our role, but I do think we’re well suited to be the platform for information-sharing across the world since we have such a large footprint,” Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb cofounder and chief strategy officer, tells Fast Company. “This stuff is not necessarily straightforward, especially at the international level,” he adds, pointing to the visa process and tax codes.

Airbnb has internally been supportive of remote work. In April, the company announced a new policy that allows employees to live and work from anywhere. That includes the ability to work from 170 countries for up to 90 days per year in each location.

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Broadly speaking, the rise of remote work has been a boon to Airbnb. The company says long-term stays, which it defines as 28 days or more, are its fastest-growing category by trip length.

Workers in a new country are likely to take long weekends or short trips to explore the area, where they could use Airbnb to book additional lodging and experiences, Blecharczyk says. They could also use the platform to visit a country ahead of time before moving for remote work.

But the proposal also benefits the locations and economies that people are visiting, Airbnb emphasizes. In the white paper, the company points to a 2021 report from the Economic Innovation Group, which found that a remote worker incentive program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, generated nearly $20 million in additional local GDP and about $1.6 million in state and local tax revenue in 2021. It adds that every dollar spent on the incentive program resulted in $2.38 in new labor income locally.

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Separate from the Airbnb report, a Pew Research Center study published in February found that 60% of workers with remote-friendly jobs would prefer to work remotely all or most of the time following the pandemic.

After reviewing the processes of more than three dozen countries that implement some sort of digital nomad-friendly visa system, Airbnb suggests that governments adopt remote worker visa programs, streamline and simplify the application process, and offer remote worker visas for more than one year. Those visas should also be privy to expedited approval (under three weeks) and a discounted rate, Airbnb says, adding that countries ought to limit the requirements for a remote worker applicant.

Tax and financial incentives can also be used to bring in remote workers and reduce the tax burden on the employee and their employer. Airbnb advises that governments not tax foreign sources of income, extend tourist tax exemptions for visitors with a remote work visa who want to book accommodation for their trips, and outline clear rules for what constitutes a permanent establishment.

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Other recommended measures include lodging credits, high-speed internet support, discounts, and volunteering opportunities to help integrate the individual in the area.

Airbnb has so far partnered with 20 destinations globally to develop digital remote work hubs, which have both long-term listing options and links to information around entry requirements and tax policies. The hubs, which are rolling out now through the end of the year, include Bali, Dubai, rural France, and Tampa Bay, Florida.

“We’re just all about supporting those who want to get out of their bubble and go somewhere new,” Blecharczyk says.

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About the author

Jessica Bursztynsky is a staff writer for Fast Company, covering the gig economy and other consumer internet companies. She previously covered tech and breaking news for CNBC.

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