WFH means "work from home," but a public-private group hopes people will see it as a "work from Hawaii." It's all part of a drive to boost technology work in the islands.
Last year, members of the Hawaii Executive Collaborative brainstormed ways to boost the local economy in the absence of tourism. One member, Jason Higa, CEO of Zippy’s Restaurants parent company, FCH Enterprises, presented an idea to attract kamaʻāina living aboard, and others, to work from home in Hawaii for as long as entire industries are working from home through the pandemic.
The idea quickly evolved into a program called Movers & Shakas to incentivize 50 mobile and connected tech workers to move here, with the expectation that they’ll give back to the Islands in some way.
The selected group of 50 people will receive free airfare and deep discounts at hotels in exchange for sharing their time and expertise with the community and local nonprofit organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, Girl Scouts of Hawaii, Hawaii Literacy and Kupu or with local organizations supporting entrepreneurship.
This will cost about $500,000, to be underwritten largely by Zippy’s, Central Pacific Bank Foundation, and others, with some funding from the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. That agency found a fit between the remote worker programs it was developing and Movers & Shakas.
The effort certainly got attention. By the time the application period ended on December 15, more than 50,000 people had applied for the 50 spots. The lucky applicants will be selected by the end of this month. Organizers say they expect some of the applicants to move here even if not selected, and hope they’ll also follow through to give back during their stay.