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Honolulu businesses shifting some office plans to match a hybrid workforce

Farragutful, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Alii Place in downtown Honolulu

Several major downtown Honolulu employers had just consolidated their headquarters when COVID-19 policies sent everyone to work from home. Here's what those companies are doing to bring people back to the office.

In 2019, American Savings Bank moved into its brand new headquarters near downtown, an 11-story building meant to unite 650 employees who had been scattered across five different locations.

Hawaiian Electric had just begun consolidating employees from six different office buildings downtown under one roof in Alii Place in early 2020.

Central Pacific Bank debuted its new headquarters in 2021, a project that started well before the pandemic.

All of them invested millions in the idea that close proximity would be more efficient, creative and collaborative. Then COVID-19 arrived and policies dictated these employees must instead scatter to hundreds of different locations — their own homes.

As of now, ASB reports it feels fortunate to have a new building designed for wellness in the first place.

Employees have been coming back on various schedules, with teams holding on-site collaboration days. Even employees eligible for work-from-home are working on-site a few days a week.

The bank has no plans to downsize or sublease its campus.

At Hawaiian Electric, the utility immediately pivoted on some of its space, subleasing four floors back to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, which already occupied the space.

A spokesman says the company is exploring fun ways to bring back employees and re-establish the sense of teamwork that had driven the company.

Central Pacific Bank had made substantial investments in technology to offer a more hybrid work schedule by design.

It said that with the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, employees who are able to have been encouraged to work remotely, and it will survey employees about their preferences for the future.

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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