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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 19th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Now that's outsourcing!

17 January 2013

Over the decades, I've done an awful lot of teleworking. In fact, most of my life has been spent working at home for an employer or client who is tens or thousands of KM away.

It's a great setup -- the employer/client saves money because they don't have the overheads associated with providing resources needed for on-site staff -- and I save money because there's no daily commute or need to buy more "good" clothes on a regular basis.

So this setup boosts profits and saves the planet - what could possibly go wrong?

Well I had to smile (almost laugh) when I read this story on the BBC website today.

Now that's an entrepreneur and an opportunist!

Unfortunately, it's also grossly dishonest.

However, when you think about it, it's a clever way to make a lot of money...

Charge your time out at the prevailing rate for contract teleworking -- then hand the work onto some other worker in a low-wage country.

This leaves you with plenty of free time *and* a pretty nice income.

Given that your only role in such an arrangement would be to liaise with the client/employer on occasion and to also liaise with your "subcontractors" you could even hold down several jobs at once, for even more money!

When you think about it, this is the way many software companies already operate - they accept an hourly rate to perform a job and have employees who actually do the work - so what's wrong with actions of the guy in the story?

Well obviously it's fraudulent for a start. The guy's employer thought he was hiring the guy doing the outsourcing, not some unknown and unvetted Chinese programmer. It seems that in this case there were security issues associated with the job so goodness knows how much of the employer's sensitive data could now be floating around under a red flag.

Unless all code submitted by the Chinese programmer was subjected to line-by-line peer review there are also no guarantees that there aren't some unpleasant "surprises" waiting to be triggered some time down the line.

Unfortunately for the rest of the teleworking world, this guy has probably soured some prospective employers or clients to the prospect of employing remote workers - and that's a bad thing. Goodness knows it's often hard enough convincing people that teleworking is a viable way to have work done - now it's just got harder.

And I wonder just how many other supposed teleworkers are actually spending their days on YouTube, Facebook and porn sites while, unknown to their employers, the work is actually being done by someone in India or China? Is this just the tip of an iceberg perhaps?

Have any of those in the contract/teleworking business heard of others engaging in this type of unofficial subcontracting before?

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