The CEO of Airbnb: “rebuild physical community” because this is the “loneliest time in human history.”

Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb, believes there is a lot of loneliness in the world and claims to know how to bring people together.

At the Bloomberg Technology Summit on Thursday in San Francisco, Chesky stated, “We’re probably living in the most lonely time in human history.” He declared, “We need to rebuild physical community in cities all over the world.”

He observed that as a result of things like working from home instead of at an office, shopping on Amazon rather than at a mall, and watching films on Netflix rather than in theatres, people no longer congregate as much as they once did. We “still need community,” he said, despite the fact that places like churches and bowling alleys are no longer as effective as they once were as gathering places. “We must be present in person.”

Chesky noted that breaking bad behaviours is a part of the solution. The practise of splitting up zoning into “this is a commercial district, that is a retail district, and that is a residential district” has a long history in cities. There may be a sizable chance to rezone the commercial spaces for residential or mixed use, he suggested.

According to a new analysis from MSCI Real Assets, commercial real estate is failing in the United States, with the amount of distressed assets rising to roughly $64 billion in the first quarter. According to the analysis, there is potential trouble with about $155 billion of commercial property assets, with offices—which have been hard hit by remote work and significant tech layoffs in particular—representing the sector with the greatest potential trouble at nearly $43 billion.

The Upward thrust of the Decentralized Startup

According to data from security firm Kastle, the average office occupancy rate in the United States is just under 50%.

On Fox Business earlier this month, Shark Tank star and seasoned real estate professional Barbara Corcoran mentioned the low trust in commercial real estate, saying, “No one really believes it’s going to turn the corner.” People are remaining at home. In a report released on Thursday, the research firm Capital Economics stated that the “35% plunge in office values we’re forecasting by end-2025 is unlikely to be recovered even by 2040,” equating the decline in demand to what malls have gone through over the previous six years as consumers shifted to online shopping.

However, Chesky noted that “from of crisis comes opportunity, and when someone leaves, someone else can go in.

converting office space to a home

He stated more commercial property should be converted into residential property as the first step in solving the issue. He asserted that high-rise buildings “are better for living than for working,” noting that many modern residents desire expansive window views and open floor plans. “That could be really interesting,” he continued, “if we made rezoning a little bit easier and really created incentives for people.”

Second, communities ought to employ rezoning to make room for additional real estate with multiple uses. “I think a very vibrant community is a multi-zone community, so it’s not quiet during the day or quiet at night—this is where people live and this is where people work,” he stated.

He cited co-working spaces as an illustration of how cities could promote the development of more communal areas in order to foster a sense of community among remote workers.

Chesky is hardly the first notable figure in technology to address the rise in loneliness and the possibilities for human connection. Marc Andreessen, a well-known venture capitalist, claimed last year that the rise in remote work has “detonated” the way Americans connect, with fewer people convening in offices and less people feeling connected to one another in homes, increasing feelings of “alienation and loneliness.” A startup called Flow, founded by his company Andreessen Horowitz, promises to give tenants a stronger feeling of community and ownership.

Even if many other CEOs are becoming more insistent on it, Chesky is the only one who does not mandate a return to the office at his own company. The Live and Work Anywhere policy, which Airbnb launched a year ago, allows workers to work up to 90 days abroad in addition to choosing whether to do so from home or the office.

We are not a remote-first company, as Dave Stephenson, the CFO and head of employee experience at Airbnb, recently stated to Fortune. Working in person is crucial in our opinion…Simply put, we believe that you should plan ahead for your work gatherings.

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