For many professionals, Hawaii seems like a dream location for remote work. But doing remote work in Aloha State takes more than a plane ticket and a laptop.
The pandemic devastated the state’s economy. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, visitor arrivals fell 97.6% between August 2019 and August of the following year. Employment in the state’s leisure and hospitality sector, which accounts for nearly one in five jobs, fell 53% between February and August 2020, according to the Pew Center.
A program, called Movers and Shakas (named after the friendly Y-shaped hand gesture with extended thumb and little finger meaning ‘relax’), was launched in December with local business leaders. It offers free plane tickets to teleworkers who commit to stay at least a month and participate in volunteer activities. The 50 places in the program attracted 90,000 applications. Nominations for the second round will open this month.
As is the case elsewhere, reliable Wi-Fi is the litmus test for many. Some areas of the Hawaiian Islands, especially rural areas, lack robust broadband or cellular infrastructure. Tomasz Janczuk, a 45-year-old man based in the Seattle area who owns and operates a software development company, chose the three Big Island hotels he and his family lived in for a month based on the power of the Wireless.
While on an off-road trip, Mr. Janczuk received a call from an employee about a service outage at his business. He stopped and had to get on his Jeep for enough reception to help resolve the issue. “If there’s no Wi-Fi, you have to fall back on cellphones, and it’s pretty patchy there,” said Janczuk, who also wore a hot spot.
Some workers find Hawaii’s spectacular environment, which attracted them in the first place, to be a distraction. Jasmyn Franks, a social media strategist for an advertising agency in Kansas City, Missouri, started working in mid-May from the palm-filled backyard of her aunt’s house in Mililani, a mountainous town of Oahu. Ms Franks, 30, said that initially the first five to 10 minutes of each conference call was spent with colleagues admiring her background. “So there was a point where I was like, ‘OK, let’s take this around the corner or something where it looks like I’m at home. ”
Ms. Franks has made a habit of packing her laptop on her outings to the beach to handle her co-workers’ end-of-day demands. “Someone said to me, ‘Oh, can I call you? And you’re like ‘Sure’, even if you’re on the beach with your towel or flying up the side of a mountain, ”she said.
Ms. Franks plans to return to Kansas City soon but will return to Hawaii for the end of the summer. His company returns to work in the office in the fall.
For some, like Minda Harts, Hawaii and remote working don’t mix. After more than a year of isolation in her Harlem apartment, Ms. Harts, a 39-year-old workplace equity consultant, said to herself, “I really need a beach, I need to take care of me. She had always dreamed of seeing Hawaii and the pandemic made her want to trade New York for the string of islands where surfing was born. After her second Covid vaccination in April, Harts figured it would be easy to move her workplace to Honolulu for a few weeks.
She was wrong. Most of the client appointments were from the East Coast, which meant she had to get up at 3 a.m. to get ready. (Hawaii, which does not observe daylight saving time, is five or six hours behind Eastern Standard Time.) By late afternoon, she was too exhausted to do more than admire the view from its balcony, let alone go to the beach. “I kept telling myself, ‘You’re almost there, you’re almost done for the day,’” Ms. Harts said. “I was more tired in Hawaii than in New York. After a week, she flew home, 14 days earlier than expected.
Others, like Mike Panara Jr., a 34-year-old software vendor based in Haddonfield, New Jersey, have discovered opportunities in Hawaii, the state with the longest life expectancy in the United States.
After saving up during the lockdown, Mr. Panara decided to live and work in Waikiki, a neighborhood in Honolulu, for the months of February and March of this year. His rent in Hawaii was $ 1,400 a month, the same amount he paid in New Jersey. Getting up in the wee hours to follow colleagues home was not a problem, Mr Panara said, as it gave him time to explore the land and learn to surf. In June, he packed up his apartment and signed a ten-month lease for housing in Honolulu. He will be an official resident of Hawaii by the end of the month.
Before, “we lived to work,” he said. “Every day is surrounded by work, and when you’re done you put on Netflix, go for a walk, and wait until the next day. In Hawaii, we worked for a living.
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