Skift Take

When it comes to work from home, Expedia Group Chairman Barry Diller doesn't "get it," but he's not shy telling you about it.

Barry Diller isn’t a fan of work from home, but has apparently been overruled on the issue by leaders at this companies — as well as employees.

Diller, the chairman and senior executive of both Expedia Group and IAC, where working from the office and from home form a hybrid mix, told the audience at the Skift Global Forum in Manhattan Tuesday that working from home is “kind of stupid” and “a crock.”

There is hardly any innovation to be had ”sitting at a laptop computer at a dinning room table,” Diller said in a discussion with Skift Editor-in-Chief Tom Lowry.

Diller said work from home has been “imposed” on his companies, mostly because of tech firms pushing the idea.

He argued that it was insane to ask employees in surveys what they think of working from home versus coming to the office, but people at his companies reminded Diller that they would lose lots of employees if they mandated showing up at the office five days per week.

Expedia Group opened a new $900 million headquarters with 600,000 square feet of office space in the fourth quarter of 2019, months before the onset of the pandemic.

Diller Praised Expedia Group’s Reorganization

Diller praised the multiyear effort to simplify operations at Expedia Group, where there were “seven checkout paths” at different brands, and endless duplication.

The company is “redesigning every single crook in the machine,” he said.

When Lowry asked Diller if he was satisfied with the pace of change at Expedia Group, Diller quipped he would never say he was satisfied. “That would just make the people who work for me happy,” he said.

Most Sustainability Programs Ineffective

In other highlights of his on-stage interview, Diller said “the mass of them [Environmental Social and Governance programs] are truly empty calories,” although he added that some energy companies are getting them right.

He noted that Expedia Group is promoting alternative destinations to tourist spots that are “overrun,” but Diller said he doubted that these sorts of things would have a deep impact on sustainability in travel.

“I don’t think this ESG movement has amounted to much,” he said, except in producing “glossy” reports.

Corporate Travel Will Be Back

Diller predicted corporate travel will be back to a semblance of its former self, probably in 2024.

“There is an imperative to see your customers and to be out in the world,” Diller said.

Business leaders will implore their chief financial officers to provide adequate budgets to make business travel happen, he said.

Grim Prospects for U.S. Democracy in 2024

Diller said he worries that ex-President Donald Trump would be reelected in 2024 to the peril of democracy in the U.S. — or that Republicans would contest the legitimacy of the election if Trump runs and loses.

“It is incomprehensible to me that we would reelect Donald Trump but we might,” he said.


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Tags: barry diller, business travel, corporate travel, expedia, expedia group, future of work, online travel newsletter, sgf2022, skiftlive, sustainability, trump, work from home

Photo credit: Barry Diller (left), chairman of Expedia Group, appeared at Skift Global Forum September 20, 2022 in New York City. Editor-in-Chief Tom Lowry interviewed Diller. Neil van Niekerk / Skift