Airbnb, where the coffee is slow roasted, the wifi is instant and dogs are free to roam. This, I thought as I was welcomed into their European HQ, is a company that’s got it together. Of course that could also be deduced from their ever expanding customer base, 21 global offices and $30 billion valuation last year. Dublin facilities guru, Mark McDermott, was our willing tour guide for the day. Among the six Airbnb core values is a reference to a kind of person who “appreciates the details” and this is certainly true of Mark. Beginning at the Agora, the central staircase and focal point of the Dublin Docklands office, he led us from floor to floor of this impressive space explaining the rationale behind each area as we went.
Meeting rooms in this converted warehouse are inspired by current Airbnb listings across the globe. One such room, boasts black painted walls adorned with quirky art pieces, an ornate chandelier, an antique mahogany cabinet and plush white dining room chairs. Not your usual boardroom environment but then nothing about this space is usual or corporate.
The ethos of travel and discovery in Airbnb’s product, features too in their work practices. Mark explained Airbnb’s unique approach to collaborative working – the idea of ‘neighbourhoods’ – where nobody has set desks but instead a shared workspace consisting of large tables, standing desks, breakout or lounge areas and large cubby holes for personal storage.
Sara from the Love team said this flexibility was one of her favourite things about working at Airbnb. “It’s not just a beautiful office space, we can work anywhere and we can work with different colleagues every day. I love that!”
Working on the Trust and Safety team, for Sam, it’s all about authenticity. “What struck me about Airbnb even in my first two weeks was that everyone was very authentic and genuine. Nobody seemed to have their work self and their home self so it made it a really refreshing work environment to be in.”
Olivia Lees, EMEA Recruitment Specialist and host extraordinaire, took us to lunch on site. It was clear to see why so many people rated food among the top perks at Airbnb. The variety of healthy options were amazing – fresh salad bars, colourful rice dishes and an array of vegetarian options – not to say that I didn’t raid their well stocked goodie corner of chocolate and crisps!
Fiona Keane, European Recruitment Manager for Airbnb, was also on hand to share a chapter of the Airbnb story. When she was offered her role back in 2013 she was the only recruiter outside San Francisco.
“We were in a different building then, there was probably 70 staff on site and I was handed a laptop and told there was 105 open roles.”
From 70 employees 3 years ago, to around 500 employees today, the Dublin team has grown at a phenomenal rate, making it all the more impressive that they maintain such diversity of ages, nationalities and experiences. How do they do it?
“Our 6 core values are our cultural tenets. They are seen as an underlying philosophy for the whole organisation and if people believe in the core values, irrespective of what generation you are, you’re speaking a common language.”
So what’s left to conquer for Airbnb? They recently launched ‘experiences’ to take Airbnb beyond hosting in homes. As Fiona explained: “It means that in any city you go to, not only will you have people who can host you in a home, you’ll also have people who can host you on a trip or experience. It’s split based on what might be your area of interest. It could be anything from going to wander around a food market in Paris, to going to hang out with a grime DJ in London, to looking at street art in LA.”
The thinking being that people want an authentic experience that exceeds the usual touristic options while saving time on multiple websites. “That”, said Fiona “is the future.”
The bright, creative and innovative space of the Warehouse is something special – a home to a bright, creative and innovative team who seem to have a genuine passion for what they do. But don’t take my word for it…