You’ve been hearing about outsourcing for years: mostly in the context of large manufacturing and product-producing companies offshoring and outsourcing the majority of their operations. These days, most of our electronics, toys, plastic products, furniture, and even our call centers are all overseas, and companies are reaping the reward of selling the same products… but making them at less than a tenth of the prior cost.
It’s a globalization dilemma not unique to the U.S., which has utterly changed the employment landscape. But for the first time, this same capability is being transferred to employees. With the advent of large global freelancing markets, like freelancer.com and upwork.com, it’s become possible for employees to begin outsourcing the physical and mental labor which their jobs usually require at a fraction of their salaries.
One of the first major stories about this opportunity broke when a web developer outsourced his job to a Chinese firm, paying them approximately one-fifth of his salary. While at his desk at, he would use work hours as personal time, Facebooking, going to Reddit, and using eBay while someone else did his work. The firm he worked for only found out because their I.T. staff noticed communications to Chinese IP addresses, and hired Verizon to investigate.
Anyone with a few brain cells to rub together can see the perks of outsourcing. Products or services are delivered at a fraction of the cost, and if you do your due diligence selecting a provider, outsourcing can be accomplished to a high degree of quality. Of course, depending on what you’re outsourcing, shipping, communique with your supplier, legal issues regarding importation, things can quickly get complicated. There can be benefits of using a logistics company to handle all the day-to-day ins and outs.
Outsourcing your own job can be functionally quite similar; and if you’re using a vetting or freelancing service, you’re effectively getting the perks of a third party handling many of the logistical complications. These days, it’s not a difficult undertaking.
A Time magazine writer hailed the infamous outsourcer mentioned above as the labor hero of the 21st century. Others asked the question that most of us wondered ourselves: When a corporation outsources our job to make a profit, that’s just the nature of capitalism and the economy of the future. But if someone’s clever enough to outsource their own job, it’s somehow shameful?
Of course, there are some key differences. The goal of a business is to make money, which can be passed along to shareholders and stakeholders; and most businesses work within the law to outsource. In most cases, employee-employer contracts prohibit outsourcing, and of course, if someone is outsourcing from countries like China, the lack of aggressive copyright laws can start creating some substantial issues.
But the notion that you can make money by hiring someone else to do work isn’t outrageous. It’s the very underpinning of the idea of a business owner having employees. It’s why some contractors will sub-contract work. As long as the work being done is good enough to pass inspection, division of labor benefits everyone.
If you’re interested in outsourcing your own work, consider it! If your employment has the appropriate designation and permissions, and if you can minimize security or copyright concerns, it might be exactly what you need to begin getting ahead. Of course, it’s important to realize that becoming a contractor has downfalls as well as perks: you’ll likely face a higher tax bracket and might lose out on some employer benefits. But with all that extra time you’ll have from not working, you might be able to easily work or second job and maybe just outsource that one, too!