Six New Yorkers Will Get to Live the Dream With These ‘Work From Hawaii’ Residencies

State tourism and Edelman create a new meaning for 'WFH'

This could be your workspace, if you're selected for one of Hawaii's special WFH residencies. Hawaii Tourism USA

If you’re a New York City millennial who likes the idea of a weeklong working vacation—with gorgeous island vistas and cultural immersion half a world away—Hawaii would like your attention.
The state’s tourism board and agency Edelman are today launching a new campaign inviting Instagram-savvy young professionals in and around the five boroughs to apply for six residencies, each on one of Hawaii’s six main islands. Titled “Work from Hawaii,” it plays on “WFH,” the popular acronym for people working from home, to pitch possible candidates in fields like business, design and technology on a better kind of telecommuting.
Take, for example, the “Sound Space” residency. Set on the state’s largest, eponymous island, it is, per the campaign copy, “an idyllic recording studio,” aimed at the likes of professional musicians and podcast producers. “Your surroundings will set just the right tone for your one-on-one time with cultural ambassador Micah Kamohoalii, a kumu hula (hula teacher) and expert in the Hawaiian art of kapa making,” it continues. “He’ll teach you how to tap into the sounds of the island before you head to a session at Kukuau studio to lay down your tracks.”

The 'Location Scout' residency includes a 7-day itinerary on Kauai.
Hawaii Tourism USA

There’s a “Location Scout” itinerary on Kaua’i for photographers and cinematographers, promising landscapes perfect for sharing in Instagram. A “Design Loft” program on O’ahu for graphic designers, typographers and other visual creatives includes lessons in local printmaking techniques. “The Tech Lab” on Maui, suggested for the likes of app developers and cryptocurrency miners, promises a “stunning view” and a “wayfaring lesson.” A “Writing Desk” on Moloka’i, meanwhile, is “the remote workspace of every novelist’s dreams,” also appropriate for journalists and other “aspiring wordsmiths,” thanks to a WiFi-free desk and “just the right mix of solitude and inspiration” to maybe “finally finish that ‘rough draft.'”
Last but not least is the “Corner Office” on Lāna‘i, where entrepreneurs can “arrive by private jet” and hone their business skills by learning the strategy game konane, cocktail mixing tricks and sustainable development techniques from local executive Kurt Matsumoto.

"Each residency is designed to inspire, refresh and have the resident come back better."
Jay Talwar, CMO, Hawaii Tourism United States

The goal, says Jay Talwar, chief marketing officer for Hawaii Tourism United States, is to correct the general misperception that the state comprises just a couple of islands each with a couple of resorts, and that since it’s part of the United States, it doesn’t have enough of a unique culture to be worth visiting. Instead, the organization, a subsidiary of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, wants to expose the residency winners to different aspects of life on the individual islands, beyond just the natural beauty for which Hawaii is already known.
“Each island location features a unique work and living space, dedicated ambassadors and hands-on itineraries to delve deep into Hawaii’s cuisine, culture, and adventure; and each residency is designed to inspire, refresh and have the resident come back better,” he explains. The ambassadors are selected because “they have one foot deeply steeped in the culture and cultural practices of Hawaii, and the other firmly in the contemporary world,” with credentials like “open-ocean celestial navigator, traditional tatoo artist, chef, old-school wooden surf board carvers” and more.
The strategy draws on survey data indicating that 81 percent of millennials and 71 percent of New Yorkers feel more productive when working away from a traditional office setting. The campaign’s creators also point to data that shows 82 percent of New Yorkers feel they work harder than anywhere in the country, 87 percent of New York millennials prefer to work “on the move instead of in an office,” and 96 percent of the latter group agree that getting away from a regular work routine, seeing new people is essential to their creativity. Meanwhile, 67 percent of New Yorkers say they ended up doing work on their last vacation either for a job or on a passion project.


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@GabrielBeltrone gabriel.beltrone@gmail.com Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.