What does remote work mean for Hawaii?

As we put 2020 behind us — thank goodness — it’s interesting to consider how “the future of work” will impact the future of Hawaii — most notably our economy, lifestyle, and culture.

One of the most troubling results of the coronavirus in Hawaii is the number of service industry jobs and livelihoods lost — for the foreseeable future — due to social distancing restrictions and severe reduction of visitors to the Islands.

One sector that’s been not only spared but is actually thriving is the technology (“tech”) industry. Many of the big tech companies based on the mainland, notably the San Francisco Bay Area, are experiencing a massive boost in revenue due to people spending more time online than ever.

Rather than layoffs, tech companies are actually boosting hiring efforts while transitioning its employees to a “remote only” office model. This is a profound transition and creates some excellent opportunities for Hawaii, such as:

  • Remote workers who no longer need to live or pay to live in big cities are starting to migrate to places that are more affordable, comfortable, spacious, and lifestyle-centric — like Hawaii
  • No longer restricted by geography (i.e., major metropolitan areas), tech companies can now expand their talent search to places like Hawaii, which means access to higher paying and more specialized jobs that don’t rely solely on tourism
  • Hawaii’s small but respectable tech scene can start to grow exponentially by attracting more diverse talent to Hawaii, which can inevitably lead to more innovation, more startups, and less “brain drain.”

Any downsides?

Of course, with any change comes concerns. Housing is one. A great deal of available short-term and long-term housing is being scooped up by incoming remote workers and parents of remote-schooling children.

Time will tell if this trend creates a housing shortage and higher prices for locals in the long-term. But then again, we may see some creative solutions to how housing is utilized in this new remote work, post-covid paradigm.

Another concern of the WFH (Work From Hawaii) movement is the impact on Hawaii’s unique culture and community. More people spending locally certainly helps to support the economy, but money can’t buy everything. Cultural awareness and participation are imperative to keeping things pono (balanced).

Some advice to newcomers: don’t just move in and keep to yourself — get out, talk to people, and share what you got 🙂

The future looks bright

The new reality of remote work fits Hawaii well. We have most modern conveniences to support a growing remote workforce, universities to educate new workers and innovators, and a small but passionate tech scene.

Best of all, Hawaii’s climate is nothing but wonderful all year long, and we have some of the most diverse and unique cultures in the world.

Image credits: Jordan Carroll, Vivek Kumar, Alexandra Tran 

Need a hand with your next Maui vacation? Please contact the Sunny Maui Vacations team at info@sunnymauivacations.com or call 808-240-1311, ext. 21. We’ll find you the best vacation rental condo or rental home in South Maui and help you with any and all recommendations and activities across Maui.

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