Hawaii Will Fly Remote Workers Over For Free, With One Catch
As remote worker visas become the norm, some areas are starting to get creative in how they attract people. Helsinki, the capital of Finland, has a try before you buy 90-day remote worker program, for example. In it, you get resources to find housing, connections to healthcare and the tech ecosystem, and even a pickup from the airport – all for free. Hawaii, long known for its tropical beaches and friendly culture, is dipping their toes in the remote worker attraction game. Though unlike business-focused Finland, the Hawaii remote program is doing it island style.
The new Movers & Shakas program will fly remote workers to Hawaii for free so they can work remotely from the islands. The catch? You have to volunteer in a local nonprofit and stay for at least 30 days.
“Movers & Shakas is a grassroots initiative to recruit and nurture talented professionals to diversify our island economy,” says the official web page. “We aim to re-build resilience into our local community by following the principles of the host culture of Hawaiʻi.”
How to qualify for the free flight
To start, the program is only available to domestic US remote workers. This stands in contrast to the remote worker visa movement, which explicitly targets international workers to work from places like the Bahamas, Dubai, or Estonia. The other, perhaps obvious qualification is that you must be a remote worker. That means you can be a remote worker right now or have the opportunity to work remotely if you get accepted into the program. However, the program will not facilitate employment for you.
Where this program (and the Helsinki program) stand out is a focus on families. Most programs focus on the individual themselves, targeting more the solo freelancer or digital nomad set. The Movers & Shakas program explicitly encourages families to apply if your income can be earned remotely.
The qualification criteria, according to the website, is about diversifying the Hawaii community and building resilience through giving back.
“Whether you’re a returning local or a [sic] new to Hawaiʻi, you’ll be a pioneer,” says the website. “You’ll join a network of remote workers who work alongside local education non-profits to help give back to the community, as part of the community. To help you help us, we’ve put together a package of travel and lodging benefits to ease your transition to Hawaiʻi.”
Island living and giving back
Successful applicants to the Movers & Shakas program will also get support to find housing (or discounts on long hotel stays). Further, they will have access to coworking spaces so you won’t just be working from home.
The expectation of all successful applicants is a pledge to give back. If accepted, you need to sign The Pledge to Our Keiki. The pledge names a list of things including being mindful of the environment, sharing, and preservation.
Further, donating time to local nonprofits is how you “pay” for your flight over. So far, this program is the only of its kind. While others require you to have health insurance, this requires you to be civic-minded.
As of publishing, you can choose to volunteer at one of three places: The Chamber of Commerce, the Girl Scouts of Hawaii, and KUPU, a youth nonprofit.